WHERE THERE’S WILL

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Rajitha Edula wasted no time in fulfilling her dreams of becoming a beauty pageant when she landed in Melbourne18 months ago. Now she is set to represent Australia at the world final of Mrs Planet contest in Bulgaria.
Growing up in Hyderabad, it was Rajitha Edula’s dream to become a beauty queen. But it was a latent dream given that conservative Indian families do not regard the world of beauty and glamour too highly. So instead she took up dentistry to become a full time dentist.
After working for a year, love and marriage happened and she found herself packing her bags and baggage to move to Melbourne. Her initial days of settling in were fraught with not just worries but a lot of time to reflect on her goals. “Dentistry has been my career aspiration and as a qualified dentist I got enough joy serving people. But I realised my willingness to work with larger groups remained unfulfilled.”
Several months into her new city and Edula got the opportunity to organise and host a successful ‘Antakshri Night’ to promote a friend’s restaurant. The success of the event rekindled her passion for getting into events and publicity. So when friends suggested she try her luck in one of the local beauty contests, she started to dig deeper to find the opportunities. By then, she had also started to realise that Australia gives one an opportunity to fulfil dreams and “lets you work for your passion”.
Upon research, she stumbled upon a website that invited beauty queen aspirants to work with a cause, raise funds and enter the contest.
The Australia MAQuest 2016 revolves around raising awareness for ovarian cancer and raising funds. Edula thought this was a unique opportunity as it was not just a glamorous title but one that involved social service. MAQuest says it is a self-developmental program with the bonus at the end to proudly represent Australia at a World Final plus the satisfaction of knowing one has contributed back to one’s community and potentially saved a life through the promotion of ovarian cancer awareness.
“The pageant involves major fundraising effort that supports the volunteer activities and operations for our cause Teal Wings of Hope and MAQuest assists titleholders in their pursuits in becoming positive leaders in their communities,” says Edula.
Three months before the main contest, Edula started her campaign. To begin with she created a Facebook page on ovarian cancer which slowly but steadily gained responses. Her first fundraising campaign was a barbecue in which about 30 people turned up. “I thought this is an Australian way of gathering people so even though the number was small I was not discouraged.”
But it was here that more opportunities opened up. One of the guests offered her the opportunity to sell tickets for a cruise party he was conducting and in the process simultaneously raise money for her cause too.
Things started moving well from there. “We all started making a group and they gave me different ideas.” A week before the finals on May 13th, Edula conducted a big charity night dinner with 200 guests who jumped on the dance floor, sang and participated in tambola game. Many went back home happy with gift coupons and movie tickets. “It was my turning point,” she says.
Edula also successfully organised a cricket day and night match and by the end she became the first person at MAQuest this year to raise a maximum amount of 6000 AUD.
More than that, adding, “Teal Wings of Hope motivated me to come out and speak to larger groups and spread awareness on ovarian cancer. At the age of 26 and being a married woman myself I understand how women in general take their body for granted. The hardest part is being able to distinguish deadly symptoms to their regular illness. Awareness is the only way forward to beat the disease and help people understand early symptoms. It is a joy to know that with knowledge and dedicated effort, I am re-instating hope in someone’s life.”
At the finals held last month in Newcastle, Edula was not only lauded for her great efforts but went on to win many titles such as Miss Friendship, Miss Popularity and Miss Talent. But she also walked away with one of the main crowns – the Mrs Australia Planet – and will be representing Australia in the world finals of Mrs Planet to be held in Bulgaria soon.
Recalling the main day-long event in Newcastle, Edula says after the customary meeting with the mayor, the interview session with a panel of 10 judges was unnerving. When asked who will win the crown, Edula’s reply was, “Every woman who is here has come with hard work. Despite having a family and a career they contributed for society to create awareness, so every woman here needs a crown.” So then why one winner? To which Edula said, “The hard work varies. People would believe in fate or destiny but hard work pays, hence the rankings.”
In the talent round, Edula showed off her Bharatanatyam dance skills that she got trained in back home in India. Through the mudras and expressions she explained about ovarian cancer and that’s where it was different. “I first showed the woman as a beautiful and bold figure, then how the symptoms of the disease appear, the fight and how in the end she beats it and emerges strong.”
Edula also aced at the photo-shoot challenge which included evening dress, fitness wear, swimsuit and a dance walk. The final question answer round did it for Edula who showed her wisdom when asked who motivates her. “People around me motivate me because everyone has a story – be it good or bad, and every story has a moral to learn from. People motivate me every single day and today I am motivated by you all.” At the end she walked away with a crown, a stash and a trophy.
As international finalist for Mrs Planet, Edula is proud to be the only Indian to have achieved this feat and represent Australia at the world platform in Bulgaria where the theme of the pageant is global warming. She is now busy garnering support to fulfil this bigger dream. “I am determined to make the country proud and my responsibilities increase. I am preparing to make a best mark of Australia.”
It is apparent that Edula takes her new calling very seriously. “My main motto is to do some social service and try to make our world a wonderful, liveable place. I feel in such a busy world there should be someone who can spread her hands to help everyone. I choose this field of modelling to actually get some recognition as I understand if you have some recognition and do something very good you will have at least 100 people following you.”
Much of Edula’s inspiration comes from her supportive husband Sagar Reddy who encouraged her all the way through. She says the other person is her mother who from a young age taught her to not only be bold and confident by pushing her to learn karate and take part in other extra-curricular activities but also instilled in her the values of helping others. “My mother taught me that the only way you will be recognised is by doing good deeds and helping people.”
Within 18 months of coming to Australia, Edula has achieved her dreams. But more than anything, the realisation that she has made herself alive again gives her a sense of satisfaction. “The missing part from my life is fulfilled.” And yet, this is just a stepping stone to fulfilling bigger dreams. “I need to do a lot more but I also need more support from everyone,” she smiles.

By Indira Laisram