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The Miss Guyana/ Universe 2004 pageant is 11 days away and the real competition among 23 delegates who all think they have a chance of winning the coveted crown has begun. Today Stabroek News gives readers an up-close-and-personal look at five of the delegates, most of whom believe that their outstanding personalities will give them the edge over their competitors.
First up is 18-year-old Melisa Belfield, one of the young ladies considered to be in the background of all the happenings. But this Richmond, Essequibo resident feels that she has every chance of winning the crown.
Sponsored by Water Chris, Belfield, who was the second runner-up in the August-held Miss Henrietta Pageant, says she has always had a passion for modelling. Relatives and friends encouraged her to enter the pageant. She feels her personality gives her an edge in the pageant because she can easily adapt to any situation. She says she loves challenges, is confident and has the potential to embrace each challenge as it arrives.
The 5' 6" beauty finds the training "not easy", but she "embraces it". She loves working with children, so much so that her platform is Child Abuse.
She also loves reading and any kind of sports. Belfield, who says she is never shy, is a clerk at a German construction company. She hopes to become a journalist one of these days because of her love for communication and also hopes to design her own clothing because she has a creative mind. She already has some of these designs on paper.
Nineteen-year-old New Amster-dam born, Alisha Faria, is a contestant with 'attitude' and she definitely makes heads turn whenever she walks into a room; a quality that could ensure this Crystal Kiddies-\sponsored beauty a place in the finals.
Faria says she is a confident person who loves dancing, especially to Latin music. She says she loves meeting people, surfing the net and she has a "passion for fashion" and hopes to one day become a professional fashion designer. She is no stranger to beauty pageants as she was crowned Miss Berbice High, Miss Inter-High and Miss Teen New Amsterdam.
Personality is also a plus for her and she described herself as being poised and graceful, simple, easy to get along with, intelligent and capable of being an ambassador for her country. She feels that this pageant will give her the opportunity to speak out on her platform, which is Promoting Racial Harmony.
She is currently pursuing studies at the New Amsterdam Technical Institute in commerce and is employed as a cashier at the main branch of Banks DIH. Faria is the younger sister of the reigning Miss Guyana/World, Alexis Glasgow.
Joylyn Perreira also has a passion for fashion. This, the 18-year-old reporter with the MTV's News Update, feels will probably propel her towards the crown.
The daughter of a pastor, Perreira who lives at Eccles, East Bank Demerara has Sexually Abused Children as her platform. As a court reporter for her newscast, the delegate said that she has seen many cases of sexual and other abuse of children by adults and she wants to make a difference.
She describes herself as being "very daring", willing to try new stuff even if it results in life-changing consequences. She loves, "dancing, dancing and more dancing." She teaches dancing at her church.
Perreira said she has never been interested in pageants before, however, suddenly, she has developed a "flair for make-up and a passion for fashion."
She describes the pageant as a "run-way model because it is one of the most recognised pageants in the country" and she feels it will give her a chance to express herself individually. This MTV-sponsored delegate has an interesting life's ambition and that is to become a professional ballerina. Many think she might be a little too old for this, but time will tell.
Twenty-four-year-old Olive Gopaul is no stranger, not only was she once the Miss Guyana/World Queen, but she has also been featured in many commercials, and has been an anchor for a newscast and many other things.
The Blankenburg beauty is sponsored by Ameritech Global Guyana Ltd and her platform is HIV and AIDS in Guyana.
Gopaul says that she has always dreamt of representing Guyana at the Miss Universe pageant. She says that she would also take the opportunity to educate people about HIV and AIDS in Guyana and the consequences it has on the society and the economy.
She says while she was pleased with her performance at the Miss World pageant, she does not feel that she should limit herself and not "achieve her dream." While she feels that she might be better prepared for this pageant because of her experience, she admits that there are still things she needs to learn and explore.
She does not feel that her experience will actually give her an edge over the other delegates. She believes that pageants, like cricket, can be very unpredictable. "In pageants there are always the dark horses who come out when you least expect them to. The competition is not between me and Odessa Phillips as many might think, but I think all the delegates have an equal chance of winning; and may the best person win."
And no, she and Phillips are not bitching around each other as many would think; they actually enjoy training together and have a few laughs. "We have a good relationship while preparing for the pageant," she says.
The former trained Spanish teacher has a diploma in Marketing from the Univer-sity of Guyana and hopes to further her studies at the University of the West Indies as her dream is to one day have a chain of restaurants throughout the Caribbean.
She is currently employed with the Guyana Lottery Company as the hostess for the Daily Million and Daily Dream draws. She is the goodwill ambassador of Lifeline Counselling Services and patron of the local `Wrap it up every time' HIV and AIDS campaign. She sits on the National Advisory Council for the President Youth Awards Programme and is also a make-up artist.
Nineteen-year-old Verita George feels that she is the best person to represent Guyana at the Miss Universe pageant. She says she is a representative of a true Guyanese woman as she is a mixture of all six races.
Sponsored by Red Water Jet Boat Company, George, whose platform is Breast Cancer Aware-ness, is a novice. This is her first pageant and she entered because it is the most prestigious pageant in Guyana. She hopes to one day become an actress and a model and the pageant is as a stepping-stone towards achieving that goal.
She says she is a jolly person with a great personality who loves socialising, reading, travelling, Latino dancing and is very outgoing.
A tour promoter for the Pakaraima Adventure Tour, George said she chose breast cancer as her platform because she lost her mother at a very tender age to that illness. As such, she feels very strongly about the subject also because it is hereditary in her family and she feels she is likely to develop it. She is a member of the Guyana Cancer Society.