By Gerald V. Paul
The Camera made several calls to newly minted Miss World Guyana and Miss World Caribbean 2014, the charming Rafieya Husain as she made her way to the Guyana Consulate in New York City to attend a cocktail reception recently.
Husain, who earned one of the top five spots in Miss World 2014 Beauty with Purpose, was stuck in traffic but after several hours, the interview took place. She said she was “surprised, when she heard the good news.”
Fresh out of London, England, and the Miss World 2014 event (and a wee bit under the weather – “not feeling too well”) she opted to meet with the media in Canada and the U.S. by phone.
But her message was strong as ever: “I am out to eradicate domestic violence!”
Stressing “eradicate, not ameliorate”, she said, “When women and children are still mostly being abused and still being victimized, we should know by now that a civilized society should not resort to acts of violence to resolve their differences.”
She took this passion to Oxford University’s Student Union, not as a celebrity but as an ambassador as she stressed the need to solve problems and find the solutions, while changing the world.
She shared her experience of being abused by her fixated and domineering ex-boyfriend who even tried to run her over with his car. That’s when she said enough was enough and empowered herself first and then others. The Miss World platform gave her a sense of freedom, she said.
Husain, 22, attributes her success to strong family ties and her Muslim faith which is about peace and helping others. “Islam is a way of life. I hold it dear to my heart.”
She noted that you do not base the actions of one person on an entire country and noted the excellent work her grandfather, the late Imam Shaffeek Khan, did in Guyana.
She’s met former Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo, now UN Champion of the Earth, at the Guyana Embassy in Washington and congratulations are pouring in from the across Caribbean community, where she’s visited numerous Caribbean countries, glorying in the people and culture.
She looks forward to continuing to share her message in the Caribbean, the same as she did with her personal mission in Guyana, bringing awareness through education on recognizing early signs of domestic violence. She is visiting secondary schools, meeting with teens and giving advice on how to deal with teen dating. She also distributes pamphlets and bracelets as part of the “I commit too” campaign.
“I am passionate about the things set before me and ambitions enough to accomplish the task at hand.
“Domestic violence is everyone’s concern. It is time we take a few cycles back and restore our values starting with our youth and identifying the early signs of domestic violence in order to correct behaviours and save lives,” Husain said.
Hailing from Anna Regina, Guyana, the family relocated to the U.S. when she was 11. Today, the third- year university business administration student aims to become an entrepreneur and is hoping her studies will equip her with the tools to be successful.
Since the Beauty with Purpose ethos was incorporated into Miss World, millions of dollars have been raised and countless hours of work have been carried out across the globe, including the Beauty with Purpose Charity.
Rafieya International Vision and Hope (RIVAH) is a non-profit agency established in the midst of the storm in the lives of women reaching for help and while serving as Miss World Guyana, she opened a Guy$3-million outreach centre at Three Friends Village on the Essequibo Coast to aide in the fight against domestic violence, empowering women and teenagers.
Husain said the centre was built by RIVAH in memory of her grandfather, Shaffeek Khan, who was once regional executive officer of Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).