Home People For the love of people

For the love of people

February is the month of love where many people around the world go out of their way to either spoil their loved ones or to ask out that special person in their lives. But this month we are shaking things up by talking to Sasha-Lee Laurel Olivier about the love she has for the community.

Many would remember her as the beautiful woman who was crowned Miss South Africa 2019, but others will remember her for all of her community projects and outreaches.

For Sasha-Lee life is all about changing lives, uplifting and empowering other people.

Spreading love while helping others

- Advertisement -

Her love for the community started with the Miss South Africa (SA) pageant.

‘Growing up watching Miss SA I witnessed the power the platform possessed. It could effect change and inspire. I wanted to be a part of that, so every decision I made thereafter was in service of such an ideal,’ she said.

She managed to distribute close to 20 000 Easter eggs to hospitals in South Africa and Swaziland from 2017 to 2019.

‘This project taught me the importance of resilience and collaboration.’

Since being a part of Jozi Mission in 2010, she has created and implemented three successful projects across South Africa.

‘There was the Easter egg drive and then later through Miss South Africa we spearheaded collection and distribution of the rape comfort pack. This year, through my partnership with The Regenesys Business School and Brand South Africa, I have facilitated R1-billion in bursaries across the continent,’ she said.

According to her, this moment is so much more than the exchange.

‘It is important to create projects that speak to what it means to be the first generation in a young democracy, in a country where our parents didn’t enjoy the same opportunities we have.

‘I think the solutions put forward especially in education are lacking the support structure for South Africans to have a better impact on the youth.’

What she loves the most about reaching out and helping others is being on the ground and engaging with the community.

‘Having conversations with the community help us direct and adapt our projects. I appreciate their insight.

‘The challenge lies in getting prospective students to believe that they can take on this chapter even if their circumstances previously didn’t support it.

‘A large part of this journey is providing adequate support so I do make myself available to them for support. The business school now has an Academic Excellence Unit to support students with this transition,’ she explained.

Her latest project

Sasha-Lee Laurel is busy changing the world one young person at a time by providing disadvantaged young people with 1 000 bursaries. In partnership with Dr Marko Saravanja (chairperson of the Regenesys Group), she invited students earlier this year to apply for bursary funding for the 2022 academic year.

‘One thousand students were selected to receive bursary funding to the total value of R1 billion for studies at Regenesys Business School,’ she said.

The good news follows the successful launch of Sasha-Lee’s bursary campaign with the foundation in June 2021. In the course of the campaign, Sasha-Lee was able to secure bursaries for disadvantaged students in South Africa who could not afford the high tuition fees.

This programme is set to make quality education available to young people.

‘We often hear about creating more jobs, but do our youth have the skills to compete in the labour market and provide for themselves through employment or entrepreneurship? This is what this campaign is all about.’

Plans for Valentine’s Day

When it comes to the topic of love in her personal life she is honoured to have a special person in her life and just like many of us she also likes to keep certain parts of her life private.

‘When the time is right everyone will know,’ she said.

She said that every month of the year should be the month of love.

‘Celebrating not only Valentine’s Day but the love I have for the community is a big thing. For me it’s the opportunity to be a part of their story, to be there on the journey of them realising their full potential. I just don’t think I’d get to a space where I can articulate what that means to me,’ she said.

This and that

Her humble beginnings in Alberton, Johannesburg, where she grew up, didn’t stop her from dreaming big.

She is inspired by women of tenacity, women who have faced adversity and succeeded despite it like Oprah Winfrey and South African born Hollywood actress Charlize Theron.

Sasha-Lee’s journey has been a long and arduous one, ending with her achieving the dream of her life – the chance to wear the Miss South Africa crown.

Just as important, Sasha-Lee wanted to use her platform to send a message to those who, like her, had suffered sexual abuse. It was important to her that they understood they had not contributed to the assaults they had suffered. Her chosen social responsibility campaign for the duration of her reign was #itsnotyourfault.

Something people don’t know about her is that she loves to play video games and she won a league once.

On an off-day or during her spare time she loves hiking and the outdoors.

‘I am binge-watching How I Met Your Mother and trying to spend a lot of time with the people I care about most.’

Her resolutions for 2022 are to show up and be consistent in whatever the journey is.

‘The year 2019 taught me to let go of the plan a little,’ she added.

The best advice she has been given is to be unrealistic. ‘It’s one of the key traits of those who change the game.’

She would try to close the knowledge-action gap in South Africa if she could change anything. ‘We know what needs to be done or how to make things better but we don’t act on it.’

Her advice for others is to keep in mind that ‘becoming’ is an evolutionary process. ‘Try not to judge your past decisions on today’s wisdom,’ she concluded.

* Text: ELZAAN PIENAAR. Photograph: WILLEM BOTHA

- Advertisement -
Previous articleNew on the bookshelves
Next articleGIRL Power

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

How to help alleviate the symptoms of allergies

The beginning of summer is not the only time when allergies flare up in South Africa. Although hay fever season typically starts with the...

Happy retirement…

Make a conscious choice to view this as the Summer of your life and you’ll find it the most wonderful season of all. As it...

Posh tents and fine dining

Taking canvas to a new, luxe level ... if this is camping, we’re all in!To be honest, a tent, a canvas camp bed...

Calling all artists – win cash plus your own solo exhibition!

Entries are now open for the annual Sasol New Signatures Art Competition 2022, called Art Beyond Imagination.  Being the longest-running competition of its kind in...

Always up for a challenge

Raceview’s Olia Voronkova is the true image of ‘challenge accepted’. As a young girl from Russia, she braved the US, where she met the...