Winning last year's Miss Africa Perth beauty pageant was a catalyst for Fadzai Matambanadzo to start achieving her lifelong dream to make a difference in Africa. Fadzai - her name means ‘Happy' – has been living in Perth for 10 years, and is an Australian citizen. But she was born in Zimbabwe and her heart is pure African gold. “I've always wanted to make a difference in Africa. But the way I envisioned it before was: When I am older, much older, not now,” she laughs. “When I've got my career, my house, my family, by then I would have kinda ‘made it' and then I would have the ability to make a difference.” But then, as she puts it, something clicked. “And I thought, why do I have to wait, why can't I just do it now?” And so the idea for The African Dream Benefit was born. It quickly matured into a charity organisation that raises funds to support children in Africa to receive higher education and be mentored to achieve success.
“All youth have dreams. It is the birth of these dreams and the ability to dream that becomes the seed and we are here to help this seed grow,” she says. The dream needed financial resources and out of the idea of holding a fundraising event came The African Dream Benefit Ball. “I knew I had to start somewhere, and really believed that once I decided on a goal for the charity I would have something to aim at. I also knew that once I set things in motion, it would snowball and gather momentum.”
Held in August, the event opened with an African theatrical dance, involving a Zulu King and his Queen moving to drumming rhythms. Twenty-five specially created dresses were showcased in a fashion show by Celestial Tenielle. The president of Save Foundation Nicholas Duncan, who was guest speaker and auctioneer, soon had dinner guests bidding for over $6,000 of jewelry sponsored by Hardy Brothers Jewelry.
Guests danced late into the night and when the evening finally came to an end The African Dream Benefit had raised over $10,000. The funds are being distributed to an orphanage, the Chinyaradzo Children's Home in Zimbabwe and to a Kenyan organization, the Akili Dada, that promotes education as a tool for empowering women. Fadzai's aim is to be able to fund 50 students receiving higher education every year, as well as participating in mentoring programs and other support mechanisms to ensure success. “Through mentorship, I want these children to change their reality, their thought pattern; get poverty right out of their heads. They must no longer think like a poor person.” Asking Fadzai if it is a deep inner passion that drives her, I am surprised by her response: “It comes from out there,” she says, and gestures outwardly, “It is just the way it is. Like this brown skin I was born with, I was born to do this. It is not about me. If it was, I would no doubt have thrown in the towel. It is so much bigger than personal benefit or gain. This is not something one does for oneself. If that was your motivation for doing it you would fail. I feel like I don't have a choice,” she says, smiling. “That is just how it is. I love it though, love doing it.”
And all this from an African-born Australian, who is juggling a marketing degree, working three to four days a week, being a dedicated daughter, sister and an aunt to her little nephew, all at the age of 22. Watch out world…Fadzai is gathering momentum!