Hlengiwe Twala’s life changing crowning moment came at a time when she had decided to put herself first for a change as she had dedicated her time over a period of 10 years to caring for her family, particularly her daughter who needed further assistance with her schooling.

“When I entered Mrs. SA I didn’t even think that I was going to win. For me it was about the journey, it was about the year of just giving back to me. I have 3 girls and a husband; my life is so full of giving to other people that along the way I kind of lost the sense of nourishing myself and taking care of me. As moms we tend to forget to take care of ourselves”.

It was during this time of taking care of herself that Hlengiwe had a health scare. Just a year before entering Mrs SA, Hlengiwe had a cervical cancer scare. “I went to do my normal pap smear that I do twice a year and I thought everything will come out fine but that didn’t happen. My doctor called me and when he said he needed to see me I knew that it wasn’t good news. He told me he had picked up something but said we should give it about 3 months to give the body a chance to flush out the cells”.

On her return to the doctor Hlengiwe learnt that the condition had worsened and the doctor suggested she goes for biopsy and a scrapping procedure which helped in clearing the condition. “I felt like my body had betrayed me; I took good care of my body, eating healthy, exercising and going for regular check-ups. That experience kind of woke me up a little bit, I realised that there are no guarantees for tomorrow – anything can happen, so whatever you want to do; do it today”.

Two days before the closing date for entries to the Mrs SA pageant Hlengiwe did her last test and was given a clean record and didn’t have to come for check-ups every 3 months. “To me that was like a sign from above saying that this is your time; own it – stop existing, live. So I took back my power”.

The gorgeous beauty queen spent the past 9 years as a full-time mom. She stopped working to assist her eldest daughter who was struggling at school. “As a mom I felt that I needed to be at home to make sure that my child has my full attention”. The decision paid off as the child improved immensely at school and is now doing matric.

In the years Hlengiwe was a stay at home mom, her modelling career continued as she went on to be the face of Revlon, Ponds and had other endorsements. With all the sacrifices made for her family, Hlengiwe feels that it’s now her time. The journey to Mrs SA has been a fulfilling and a rewarding one for this mom, wife and businesswoman. “I felt like I was a winner way before the crowning took place. When I realised the kind of sisterhood that we had with the other women, I felt like a winner. The women were so uplifting and inspiring, I felt like we were all winners. Mrs South Africa is truly not a pageant, it’s about empowerment. It empowered me to empower myself – in a different way I had gotten what I wanted. The crowning was an icing on a beautiful cake”.

Hlengiwe has enjoyed full support from her family throughout her journey. Her husband and her girls were present when she was crowned and have walked the journey with her. Her schedule soon changed and her family had to adapt to the changes, something that saw the family working together. Her husband spent more time with the girls. ‘It was such a beautiful gift because my girls were at the age where they wanted to see their father more, to have chats about boys; so we all benefitted”. This adjustment didn’t put a strain on their marriage as Hlengiwe was very supportive when her husband left his practise as an attorney to start a business. The girls were also inspired by their mom, who at the age of 37 could still pursue her dreams.

 

Mrs South Africa becomes a brand ambassador aimed at all the sponsors and Hlengiwe has been involved in a number of projects run by the sponsors. She has also had the opportunity to be involved in personal projects and one of those is the love project. “The project is a community initiative where I go to underprivileged schools and give toiletries. My children and I make toiletry bags with toothpaste, toothbrush, roll-on, sanitary pads; those basics that we take for granted. I’m urging all my friends and those who want to help to come on board. Right now I deal with 3 schools around my area. I’m also a reading angel; I go to schools and read to school kids”.

With the time of handing over the crown nearing; the future looks bright for our Mrs SA as she has acquired a Tammy Taylor nails franchise which will be operating from Fourways starting in September. “When my year of reign ends I have this beautiful shop that I will now be going to. I’m going to be the face of the shop; I have that to look forward to”.

Her message to other women is simple; “Let’s be kind to ourselves. I think we are way too harsh on ourselves. Kindness begins with us; what we give to another, we give to ourselves.  Let’s respect each other; we are not competing; when you shine, I shine”.

Mrs SA class of 2017 is the living proof that women support each other as the group has remained tight and continues to rally behind Hlengiwe. Women for women is the way to go!

 

Article by: Amanda Matshaka

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