Miss World BWP mission in Brazil - Chapter 1 - São Paulo
Text by Henrique Fontes
For those who do not know me, my name is Henrique and I am the creator of Global Beauties (1999) and the license holder for Miss World in Brazil since 2006. Ever since I took on the challenge of organizing the contest to elect Miss Brazil for Miss World, good results in the international competition came, as well as other positive things. In the last 12 years, Brazil placed 10 times, having won the Miss World Americas title on 4 occasions. Between 1986 and 2005, which means the previous 20 years, only two Brazilian women had placed in Miss World (1996 and 1998), and our country had never won a continental title. It means we must be doing something right...
All this is quite nice and certainly the result of much focus and hard work by our Brazilian team. However, a few years ago we realized that placing or even winning the Miss World title (Brazil has only won Miss World once way back in 1971), was not the best thing to come out of it. To see “Beauty With a Purpose” spreading throughout our country and gaining strength, to observe beauty actually making a difference in the lives of so many people in a huge country that struggles with a range of social problems, is without a doubt what matters the most in the end.
Our official BWP cause since 2012, the fight against leprosy, is the most precious stone in our crown. Literally! If you notice, Miss Brazil´s official crown has most of its stones in the colors of the Brazilian flag: green, yellow and blue. The single purple one, the one that perhaps stands out the most, represents the fight agains leprosy, and will only change color when the disease is eradicated from Brazil. This is our mission, and we count on some fierce (and stunning) warriors to fight this very complex battle with us!
Making it short, in 2014 Miss Brazil World Julia Gama was one of the co-winners of the Beauty With a Purpose award, in London, a moment of pride and joy to all of us. At the coronation ball, Julia Morley promised to visit all the winning countries that year to support their projects. A very busy schedule and other reasons prevented it from happening in Brazil in the following years, but about a month ago we received a phone call from the MWO office informing us that the BWP visit would finally happen!
To put everything together to welcome them and make it meaningful at such short notice was a mammoth challenge, but we counted on the help of some amazing people who believe in our pageant and in the projects we support, including our state directors, who do some very good work with their own BWP projects as well. And we managed to do it! On April 15th, Miss World Manushi Chhillar landed in São Paulo accompanied by MW producer Steve Douglas and Joseph, their camera man who´s producing a documentary to tell the story of BWP during Chhillar´s year of reign.
At Guarulhos International Airport, Miss World was first welcomed by Miss World São Paulo Danielle Arruda, 3rd runner-up in Miss Brazil World and co-winner of BWP Brazil. I was there as well, with Dr. Alicy Scavello, our coordinator of BWP Brazil, André Cruz, São Paulo´s sate director, and João Ricardo Dias, a big supporter of our contest. From there, we went straight to the Bandeirantes Palace, where Professor Lucia França, the First Lady of the State of São Paulo, was expecting us to officially welcome Miss World to the biggest city in South America and to Brazil!
About 45 million people live in the state of São Paulo, the richest and most prosperous in our nation. The city of São Paulo, which is the state capital, has alone some 18 million inhabitants! It´s a city that never sleeps and never ends.
Over breakfast, the first lady and Miss World exchanged information about social projects they support, and at a certain point, Professor Lucia expained to Manushi that São Paulo can get very cold during the winter months, which are coming, and every year the Government of São Paulo launched a campaign to collect warm clothes to be distributed to the poor. At this point, Miss World made her first impressive act of the trip: she removed a coat from a carry on bag she had with her when flying from London to São Paulo, and gave it to the first lady as a donation and symbolic act. Wow! All of us applauded her and the first lady declared that that would be the kick off for this year´s campaign!
Miss World and the First Lady promised to keep in touch and promote some exchange between countries and projects they act upon. It was a very productive morning!
Taken to the hotel, Manushi had barely one hour to rest until the Record TV team arrived to interview her and to take her to São Paulo´s Municipal Public Market. Record TV is the 2nd most watched television channel in Brazil and her interview would be aired the following Sunday night, at prime time.
At the Municipal Market, one of the main tourist attractions of São Paulo City, Manushi tried some Brazilian fruits and treats. She loved the “pastel de queijo”, something hard to translate. It´s like some fried pasty filled with melted cheese. Delicious, but very greasy! Our vegetarian queen found some similarity between our fruits and the Indian fruits and had a great time chatting with the locals. It was there that she learned her first Portuguese words: “oi” (hello), “muito bom” (very good), and “obrigada” (thank you). She also enjoyed drinking tubaína, a local soda hard to find even in Brazil.
Back to the hotel, she had a few minutes to change, put on her crown and sash, and have some serious talk about her social work as Miss World. The interview was a hit! When aired the following weekend during Record TV´s “Domingo Espetacular”, the interview reached some amazing 15 points audience, which means about 22 million Brazilians watched Miss World´s interview on tv, a number to be celebrated!!
Miss World´s stay in São Paulo was short, but certainly intense! Manushi conquered many fans' hearts and left a very positive impression in the city in the few hours she spent there. She took the day off to rest and to get ready to head back to the airport at 4 AM! Next stop would be Brasília...
(Come back tomorrow for Chapter 2!)