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On the plus side

Shevon Pereira is a whirlwind of positivity, bursting with enthusiasm and her diverse personality captivates everyone she meets.

Meeting Shevon I couldn’t help but think how much she reminded me of a sensuous Portuguese beauty. Soulful green-brown eyes, long eyelashes and gorgeous dark locks, she is without a doubt strikingly beautiful. Her bright smile and contagious laugh are evidence of how she genuinely loves life. Her easy-going and bubbly personality makes you feel as though you’ve known her for years.

Beyond her great sense of humour and the quirky jokes, Shevon is a junior business developer for a construction and electrical engineering company responsible for their branding and procedural processes. And, she is also a part-time model, co-owner of a small eco-friendly business called Route Products (selling bamboo toothbrushes and 100 per cent cotton bags), and an ambassador for The Umbrella Foundation. The latter was founded during Level 5 of the nationwide lockdown.

‘The pandemic has torn millions of South Africans away from their livelihoods, and putting food on the table has become an everyday struggle. I simply could not sit and do nothing knowing that a lot of people are taking huge strain. During a conversation with my mother, she told me about a friend, Annette Smyth whom I should reach out to. Chatting to Annette it was clear she had a burning desire to start something right away to help those in need.

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‘Annette told me that she envisioned an umbrella because it symbolises protection, and that she aimed to protect everyone in SA who needed help, regardless of the ‘season’.
‘The Umbrella Foundation was born, starting with just four people. Soon after more people got involved. Linked with BackaBuddy they literally assist with anything you can think of – from donating meals, blankets, clothes, food, books, toiletries, masks, WiFi to educational resources (and the list continues!).’

Charged with creative fire and a philosophical outlook, Shevon is always looking for the next adventure. She entered Miss South Africa, and when she only made it
to the top 35, she took the news in her stride.

‘Yes, at first I was gutted … Inclined to overthink every situation, I just reminded myself that everything works out the way it should as it is in God’s hands. Experiencing failure may be harsh, but it also offers a unique opportunity to step back and move on for success.
‘This experience also made me learn a lot about myself. Be brave and take risks in life. Apply for that dream job, pursue that passion, say yes to that opportunity that scares you, and be unapologetically you. Challenging yourself is creating yourself.’

What you might not know about Shevon is that she’s been dancing since the age of three! Now it all makes sense why she walks so gracefully with poise and confidence.

‘I did ballet and modern dancing for many years. For a few months, I even did hip hop with the dream of starring in a Step Up movie (hey, a girl can dream!). But later on, I pursued contemporary and then Latin American at university. My goal is to continue with Latin American and to dance competitively.

‘Dancing played a big part in who I am today – it taught me discipline and that hard work reaps reward. Most of my motivation of ‘falling, and getting back up’ has come from my years of dancing.’

When asked about a role model she looks up to, without even thinking twice Shevon said she has the utmost respect and admiration for one of her previous mentors during her BCom Entrepreneurship studies, Dimakatso Malwela.

‘She is a multifaceted woman who has cemented herself into the empowerment of women in Africa through entrepreneurship, tourism, clothing and textiles, as well as leadership. She has the heart to serve a nation and always makes an impact on the lives of those around her. Dimakatso has inspired me to become an advocate for change.

‘If there is one thing I wish I could change it would be to alleviate poverty. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I believe in the power to change not only the demographics in South Africa but the mindsets of South Africans to produce more Proudly South African products and businesses, and by being job creators and not job seekers.’

There are many layers to Shevon, but one thing remains – she’s got a healthy dose of positivity and is eager to spread it wherever she goes.

‘I want to encourage you today that whatever life has been throwing at you, get out the jug and start making that lemonade!’

Short and sweet:
• All things in moderation except her grandmother’s homemade milk tart • She wishes that she could sing or play an instrument • The book she will read again is 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey • She doesn’t like it when certain foods touch on her plate • Her favourite TV show is So You Think You Can Dance • She cannot stand spiders • If she could have one superpower it would be to speak and understand any language

Details: Follow The Umbrella Foundation Africa and Route South Africa on Facebook.

Text: RIALIEN FURSTENBERG. Photographer: JACO BOTHMA. Make-up & hair: ELAINE BOSHOFF.

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