Former Miss South Africa and current Miss World visited the Leeuwkop Correctional Facilities and farm yesterday to check up on the vegetable garden project that she started during her reign as Miss South Africa. The project is focused on inmates who maintain the garden which aids both their rehabilitation, with crops donated to the Leeuwkop Primary School to provide nutrition-rich meals to disadvantaged pupils.
“When I was a little girl my parents told me that I needed to give back to the world,” Strauss said addressing prison guards and a handful of inmates in a sapphire cat suit. She went on to explain for her giving back meant she needed to become Miss South Africa, but realises you don’t have to be a beauty queen to do good.
To her, the vegetable garden is a step in the right direction.
“We want to work toward a better future, we are teaching inmates by having a vegetable garden you harvest a nutrified life.”
Leeuwkop as a correctional facility has a unique blend of programmes for medium offenders, including those taking responsibilities as farm hands on the prison property. Except for vegetable fields, the grounds have an abattoir and various animals that are raised for slaughter.
Their involvement in caring for the land or animals is part of the rehabilitation process. The prisoners who helped Strauss with her garden are medium offenders who are being released soon.
When asked if it ever crossed her mind to be scared of the inmates, she immediately says no. “I’m not scared at all. In fact I saw someone who helped me plant last year.”
The fact that she has accessorised her life to include a bodyguard sporting aviator sunglasses might also come to play here.
The always polite Strauss also took time to introduce Beauty with a Purpose, a Miss World Organisation charity that has its roots set in humanitarian projects in pockets all over the globe. Major focus is the aid of disadvantaged children.
Deputy regional commissioner of Gauteng Region Raynold Ndema says, “It is great to see that she (Strauss) has a passion for poverty alleviation. We are honoured to continue what we started”.
Ndema also took time to thank prisoners who work on the farms; they are part of its success. “I was thrilled to see how well the project has done and what a difference it has made to many people – from the people involved in planting and harvesting the garden to all those who benefited from what was grown.”
Strauss put on rubber boots to go plant beetroot during her visit. She is in South Africa for the week leading up to the crowing of Miss South Africa 2015 on Sunday.