THE organiser of a controversial beauty pageant for land mine survivors has completed a trip to Cambodia to visit contestants from the banned event and distribute prizes to them in secret.
Norwegian artist Morten Traavik had originally planned to stage the Miss Landmine 2009 pageant in Cambodia last year before it was banned by a July 31 government decree, which also forbade the 20 contestants to leave their hometowns to participate. Traavik left the Kingdom shortly after the ban on the event, but he returned early last month and reportedly visited 10 of the 20 contestants in their home villages and distribute prize money to each of them.
Dos Sopheap, 19, from Battambang province, took top honours in both an online vote and a November pageant-in-exile in Norway. She was awarded US$1,000 and is slated to receive a titanium prosthetic limb that will be custom-made for her after a fitting that took place during Traavik’s visit to her hometown on December 5.
“I haven’t seen the prosthetic leg yet, but [Traavik] told me he will bring it to me in March when it is completed. I am very happy and proud to receive these prizes, especially the new prosthetic leg,” Dos Sopheap said.
The aspiring accountant said she will devote some of her prize money to her education, though she also plans to use it to support her mother and her hospitalised sister.
Dos Sopheap’s mother, 38-year-old Kang Navy, said she was very proud of her daughter’s achievement.
“I will allow her to participate in another contest if she has the chance. I trust my daughter’s ability and beauty,” she said.