Despite what iCollege Cape Town student Nelly Maramncwa has been through, she has still managed to rise above her struggles.
Nelly, who is now publishing her first book, is a Miss Eagle SA finalist and is reaching out to young girls to inspire them to be whoever they want to be.
Nelly grew up in Gauteng, but recently relocated to Cape Town to pursue her dream of becoming a well-known model.
She had been modelling from a young age but was involved in a car accident, leaving her with scars on her face. “In primary school, there was this big modelling competition and I was told I can’t join because no one will vote for a girl with scars on her face. My dreams were crushed. I thought I was never going to be a model until I saw Miss Eagle SA on Facebook and entered the competition.”
She said Miss Eagle SA is a pageant through which girls are empowered to be themselves, and they help empower other women.
“I am now a semi-finalist. I thought I would never get chosen, but when I received the news, I was so excited I screamed.”
The car accident was not the only thing that set Nelly back. When she was 12, a man tried to rape her, but her sister pushed the perpetrator away. However, the man attacked her sister.
“My sister was stabbed multiple times and she was in hospital. She was attacked trying to protect me.”
That wasn’t the end of her trauma as Nelly was also shot in the back during a robbery three years ago in the Eastern Cape.
She then decided to write a book about her life story and the hardships she went through to encourage women who have also been through tough times.
“I want to tell women that if these things happen to you, it’s not the end of the world. You can still be whoever you want to be and follow your dreams.”
The book, called The Unbreakable, will be launched in October at a venue yet to be released.
Nelly said being a finalist in the pageant helped her to reach more young girls.
“As part of the pageant, I go around to schools and do motivational speaking – I tell girls how important it is to finish their education.
“I’ve just also donated clothes to underprivileged girls in my home town of Khayelitsha.”
She said she was also in the process of building her portfolio as a model. In the meantime, Nelly is doing a course in marketing at iCollege in St George’s Mall. “I’m going to study biotechnology at UCT next year, so I decided to occupy my time with a course in marketing as I love interacting with people. Biotechnology has always been something I was passionate about.”
Asked why she moved to Cape Town, Nelly said it was the perfect space for her to pursue her modelling career. “I love the city. I love the views of Table Mountain and going to the V&A Waterfront. People are friendly and always smiling.
“The Company’s Garden is also so peaceful – it’s where I spend my time when I have little or nothing to do. I love feeding and playing with the birds and squirrels.”