Amputee Agusta Urica was just crowned the world's first ever Miss Landmine in Angola on Wednesday.
Miss Landmine???? Are you thinking, "What is that exactly?"
The idea for Miss Landmine was born four years ago when the pageant founder (a Norwegian theater director named Morten Traavik) traveled to the African country of Angola. While in the country's capital, Luanda, he was struck by two things.
First, by the country's landmine problem resulting from more than 20 years of civil war. Though Angola's civil war ended six years ago, as many as 8 million landmines remain buried throughout the country. These landmines have left an estimated 80,000 amputee survivors in their wake.
Second, the Angolans' love of beauty pageants.
Who doesn't love a tiara and some sequins????
Traavik figured that a pageant could help raise awareness of the plight of landmine amputee survivors in Angola.
"There is no sensationalistic intentions within Miss Landmine," Traavik tells the source. "Of course, the format has been chosen because it's obviously a very media-friendly forum, but it still is based very, very much on local culture, since beauty pageants are such a consistent phenomenon in Angolan contemporary culture."
Women representing each of the nation's 18 provinces competed Wednesday in the nationally televised event. Using crutches and artificial limbs, they strutted the catwalk twice — once in traditional robes of their province and once in gala evening gowns.
"They (the amputee survivor contestants) showed that they can, that they are able," said a government official after the pageant competition. "This will provide encouragement to all those left invalid by the war."
Click here for more information on what's being done to remedy the land mine situation in Angola.
[Image by Kamene Traca/Miss Landmine 2008]