Nineteen-year-old Shumeez Scott from the Western Cape has become the first South African woman with Down syndrome to land a permanent contract with a model agency.
Earlier this year Shumeez also won an international modelling competition. She and her mom, Bahia Janodien, are developing their non-profit organisation which reaches out to young people with special needs.
Mom and daughter arrived at Cape Town International Airport early in April when they returned from Gambia.
In Shumeez travel bag were a crown and sceptre – no wonder the women were in high spirits, because Shumeez had been crowned in the West African country as Miss MWI (Magnificent Women Icon) Phenomenal International.
With this international title under their belt now, their next big dream is to find permanent premises for the activities of the Shumeez Scott Foundation they founded last year.
Bahia says the foundation, currently supporting 36 children, is being run from her garage in Mitchells Plain.
“The aim of the foundation especially is to create awareness of people with special needs. But the children are also taught how to identify their dreams and realise them. They also get training to develop their individual skills. We have regular social outings and are involved with several community projects.”
A garage is of course not the ideal venue to run their organisation from, so they’re hoping to soon find a permanent building or premises in the area to extend their activities.
“We’re conducting a lot of fundraising project for this purpose,” Bahia says excitedly.
Among others they hosted a fashion show in November last year in Athlone. The 36 children on their books all participated and the event was attended by 500 people.
Shumeez’s international feat, in fact, came as result of the fashion show. She caught the eye of a representative of ACE Models, who was attending the show, and the agency subsequently offered her a lifelong contract.
Bahia describes her daughter as someone with perseverance and says her main goal is to help others with special needs. But Shumeez also has her own personal dreams – she would like one day to own her own beauty salon, reveals Bahia.