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Added by Colville Mounsey on August 29, 2017.
A Barbadian pageant franchise has come under fire from one its overseas participants, who is accusing the local owners of running off with her money, a charge vehemently denied by the pageant organizers.
South African Katryn Celliers claimed that in June 2016 she paid US$2,000 to Stephanie Chase, the executive director of Miss Humanity International, to cover franchise and entry fees for two contestants to compete here.
In a strongly worded letter sent to Barbados TODAY, Celliers, the reigning Miss Humanity International, questioned the integrity of the organizers, as no pageant has been held since she won back 2014.
“I paid US$2,000 in June 2016 and was given a discount after negotiating to bring two delegates. This included the franchise fee and entry fee to send both girls to compete in Barbados. The girls were to be given accommodation and meals during their stay. However it has been postponed a total of seven times, if not more – who can keep up? – and she refuses to give us a refund, stating the entry form says no refunds,” wrote Celliers, who competed as Barwise, but is now married and no longer uses her maiden name.
Celliers charged that the recent spate of gun violence here was the latest excuse given by Chase for the latest postponement on August 17.
According her, Chase, the former holder of the Miss Barbados World franchise, said that “over the past few weeks Barbados has been grappling with high levels of vicious crimes and that the country was facing a national shutdown.
“I spoke to friends I made in Barbados and they all said that the crime is definitely not so high that one should cancel an international pageant a few days before it happens,” the South African pageant promoter declared.
She stated that in 2017 alone the event was postponed three times, leaving her out of pocket after she paid the airfare for the two delegates.
She also claimed that her many phone calls to Chase had gone unanswered and the Miss Humanity International Facebook page was shut down after myriad messages in search of answers.
“The Miss Humanity International Facebook page got deleted. I was blocked on Stephanie F Chase’s personal Facebook as well as her other pages. One of the models that was supposed to compete decided to drop out and lose her flight money. The other girl was still very excited and she worked for two years straight, hosting many charity projects in preparation for this pageant. She spent thousands on her garments and grooming to get herself ready for an international pageant, just to have her dreams crushed,” she lamented, while stating that a delegate from Trinidad and Tobago had expressed similar concerns.
“As a result we lost our flight money of ZAR26,000 [the currency code for the South African Rand], which is about US$1,980. Why would she block her former winner, not respond to our messages or emails weeks on end, while we can see her posting on Facebook daily?” Celliers questioned.
Barbados TODAY attempted to visit the Miss Humanity International Facebook page and website, but they both had indeed been deleted.
However, a spokesman for the Miss Humanity International organization dismissed Celliers’ comments as a “slanderous personal attack on the pageant founder”, telling Barbados TODAY in an email that a decision was taken in 2015 not to hold the event, and it was not publicized that year.
According to the spokesman, plans were well under way to host the event in 2016, but financial problems got in the way.
“In 2016 planning began in earnest by our team. However, due to lack of sponsorship based on the economic landscape of Barbados and the high costs of producing such an event we took a decision not to.
“Franchise holders from around the world understood our expressed concerns because they too were experiencing financial challenges due to lack of sponsorship. Though we made significant strides to host this event during the CARIFESTA period, the Miss Humanity International organization did not host the pageant on the scheduled date due to a saturated market as a result of the numerous events held during that period,” the spokesman said in the email response to questions from Barbados TODAY, while revealing that plans were in the works to host the event in Trinidad and Tobago.
The pageant organizers also strenuously denied that other franchise holders had expressed similar frustrations, stating that they had received nothing but support and understanding from participants.
“We have received nothing but encouragement and support from franchise holders around the world. The Miss Humanity International franchise holders in England, United States of America, Venezuela, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Barbados have all expressed sentiments of gratitude for our constant communication and efforts of transparency.”
The Miss Humanity International competition was founded here in April 2003 with the “sole purpose to promote and raise awareness about humanitarian causes worldwide”.
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