Adama Cherif is Miss Sierra Leone PA 2016
"When they called my name as the winner, I was shocked; I couldn't believe it," Cherif says. "I had heard them give the name of the first runner up and thought it was over for me--then my name was called!"
Cherif heard about the pageant from a cousin who was involved in the past. She also met a board member Fatima Dumbuya; they spoke about the pageant and Cherif signed up.
"The pageant means so much to me especially to be representing my country Sierra Leone," says Cherif. "I get to be more involved with my community, to be a role model with youth and contribute in every way I can. This pageant helped me find my identity as an adult, to be a bridge at a crucial time in the lives of younger women. Decisions made in that period of high school and after can make or break someone's life."
The other lovely and talented contestants this year were Ms. Samienatu Fatu Bangura, Ms.Nafisatu Martina Mayah, Miss Fanta N Koita, Miss Fatima Kamara, Ms. Ashmatu Bangura, and Miss Patricia Jalloh
The Miss Sierra Leone PA Pageant (MSL-PA) organization is a non-profit, non-political organization founded by dynamic, strong and promising Sierra Leone women in Philadelphia, PA. The mission is to empower and educate. The organizers are Ms. Fatima Favored Dumbuya, Mrs. Korsa Kamara, Mrs Janette Kennett-Mujtabah and Mrs. Hawa Jallah.
Ms. Fatima Favored Dumbuya, a pageant board member, explained that the first pageant with held in 2013 and has been held each year since, aligned with Independence Day commemorations the last week of April to help showcase the beauty of the country.
"There are four of us that organize it," Dumbuya says. "It's our passion; our main goal is to give our young adults another opportunity to promote positive things about our culture. Too often, young African girls come here and get teased for their accents. This is an outlet to showcase their art, to do something beneficial in the community.
"This inspires others look up to them as leaders in the community. We promote education and letting the girls know there are other things to do besides parting, dancing and getting pregnant.
Dumbuya continued, "Any girl who is interested can talk to one of the organizers. We do a lot of outreach and recruitment through Facebook, other social media and community events. We have a screening process to find qualified candidates.
"We are connected with the Sierra Leone Youth Association which started last year," Dumbuya says. "We support each other's events and look forward to further collaboration.
"We do lots of community outings with individuals, and community service with the girls every other month. We have a book drive in September," Dumbuya says. "I'm also the liaison between Miss Africa and the other pageants--I send girls from this organization to Miss Africa Tristate, Miss Africa USA and other pageants involving Sierra Leone. This helps showcase them out in the world.
"Catching the girls young helps give them direction--to be humble with a work ethic and a sense of ownership of their lives. We want to help them with their decision of whether to go to college and make something of themselves or do whatever; you can either go left or right. We want them to internalize their sense of beauty and not feel they have to bleach and do other crazy stuff.
"Our next event is the Miss Sierra Leone Tristate (Pennsylvania, New York City, Delaware). It's held in New York City in August. Our Miss Sierra Leone 2016 will be participating in that; the winner of Miss Sierra Leone Tristate 2016 will be competing in the Miss Africa Tristate in June.
"We thank everyone for their support--like Ms. Jeanette on our boarrd€”she was the first to have the dream to do the pageant to showcase and celebrate back beauty; the rest of us helped the team effort to make everything go smoothly. We thank the DJ who has been doing our event for free these past four years. He's Nigerian and came down from New York; he helps us connect and network. Our keynote speaker was Aramide, a Nigerian who's also our director of the Miss Africa Tristate. We're grateful for everyone who came out and packed the place," Dumbuya says.
"You know it takes a village to grow and make something happen."