COLOMBO, Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan beauty queen and Mrs. World pageant titleholder Caroline Jurie, 27, plans to use her new-found fame to inspire and empower children in the island nation.
Mother of the two-year-old girl and hailing from a middle-class family from Kandana, a suburb of capital Colombo, she always aspired to be a model, though she had never walked on a ramp, till she competed for the Mrs. Sri Lanka pageant.
A pack of beauty, brains and a humane heart, Jurie has launched a social project called “Be You”, to help children suffering from mental illnesses.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency in Colombo, Jurie said that it is important to "always be you and not change yourself despite criticism".
“Always be who you are and don’t be afraid,” she said. She hopes that her life story can contribute to the social movement to encourage youth and children to pursue their passion and goals, without being victimized by social norms and constraints.
Jurie represented her country at the Mrs. World 2020, a beauty competition for married women, held on Dec. 2019 at the grand finale in Las Vegas, U.S.
Soon after returning to Colombo with the crown, she hosted a Christmas Party, inviting underprivileged children and those orphaned in the Easter bombings last year in April. The event brought together over 250 children, who enjoyed snacks, games, and gifts.
“My main intention of this campaign is to motivate youth especially, girls to expand the traditional and cultural boundaries which restrict creativity and free-thinking," she said.
She wants to continue with the “Be You" project, even after giving up the crown. She aims to target children all over Sri Lanka, especially orphans and those with mental illness.
“My ultimate aim is to uplift and empower all children in my country, especially the less fortunate,” Jurie told Anadolu Agency.
A Sri Lankan Health Ministry report in 2017 had disclosed that around 7% of youth in the island nation attempt to commit suicide, indicating that behavioral problems were appearing a serious challenge.
Title did not come on platter
Jurie said she has discovered an alternate way to heal mentally ill children.
“When children suffer from such illnesses, they are asked to take medicine. But I have found another way to cure and that is to talk to them. Let them share their problems, and also use techniques of meditation and yoga. Ultimately, it is not only about medicine, but about using love and care, “she said.
Sharing her experience, Sri Lanka’s most glamorous woman said many children mostly orphans are reticent. “Since they do not have parents, they do not express themselves. But it is only a matter of time. When you sit, start talking and loving them, they do become confident and communicative,” she said.
After completing her education, Jurie had moved to Dubai to pursue a career as a sales executive, where she met her soul-mate Nishantha Deepal. She gave up her career to pursue her dream of becoming a beauty queen.
The title did not come on a platter. While she sailed through the national pageant easily, it was a daunting task to compete at the international level. First, it was a lack of sponsors and then visa issues with the U.S. mission became obstacles. The U.S. Embassy rejected her visa twice. But ultimately her steadfastness succeeded. She returned to Colombo with a title.
Although her "Be You" project focuses only on children living in Sri Lanka, Jurie said that she is willing to expand it to cover other countries.
“All I want is to bring a smile to the faces of disadvantaged children."
Jurie plans to spend time with children orphaned in the Easter attacks. “Those children need love, and I want to spend time with them and make them feel loved,” she added.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.