Miss Nicaragua and a dozen of her high-heeled beauty queen coterie came clicking into Granada on Saturday as part of their weekend tour of Nicaragua.
The various misses, each of whom will represent their respective countries in the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant on Dec. 19 in Las Vegas, took time from the priming and pageantry prepping to visit Nicaragua this weekend to help raise awareness and funds for Operation Smile, a non-profit medical charity that provides cleft lip and palate repair surgeries to children worldwide.
On Friday night, the reigning Miss Universe, Angola’s Leila Lopes, and 16 misses who hope to take her crown next December, held the “Fashion for Smiles” charity fundraiser to raise money for a Managua medical center for Operation Smile.
“There has never been an event like this in Central America before,” Farah Eslaquit, Miss Nicaragua 2012, told The Nicaragua Dispatch. “We are practically one month away from the Miss Universe pageant and all these women are dedicating their time to come to Nicaragua to help. This is usually the period when the candidates are doing their most serious preparations for Miss Universe Pageant.”
Eslaquit says the event was particularly important for her, since she comes from a family of doctors in Masaya.
“I grew up seeing the needs that exist here in Nicaragua,” she says. “So this really touched my heart.”
In addition to helping to raise funds and awareness for Operation Smile, which has performed more than 3,000 reconstructive surgeries since starting here in 1993, the event was also to help promote Nicaragua tourism.
After Friday night’s fashion show, which raised close to $30,000, the misses visited the Masaya marketplace and folkloric museum, and then came to colonial Granada, where they received a marimba reception at the Hotel Plaza Colon before taking a horse carriage ride of the city and boat tour of the isletas.
“It has been great to promote our country’s tourism attractions as well; all the girls love Granada,” said Eslaquit, proudly. “It’s not every country that gets to host the Miss Universe contestants and showcase their country.”