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Miss Homeless 2009

 Haags Straatnieuws (The Netherlands) 25 May 2019

(Originally published: 11/2009) The 58-year-old Therese puts her hand with pink lacquered nails in front of her mouth. “Baise-moi!”, she emits full of disbelieve, which neatly translated means something like “I’ll be damned!”. (648 words) - Therese van Belle

In the thickening masses the sash is pulled over her shoulders, the little crown is put in her royal hairstyle and journalists push a microphone under her nose. "How do you feel right now?" Tears appear in her green-brown eyes. Her appearance becomes even more vulnerable than it was. Therese answers: "I'm moved. I have never been lucky in my life, until now." The nine candidates were smoking heavily while waiting in the dressing room for the grand finale of 10 October. At that moment Therese said to a television journalist: "If I win, I will ask somebody to pinch me in the arm, so I will know for sure that it is real." Now she is a national celebrity and has won a great prize: a year long living for free, with free medication and medical, psychological and social aid.

The 58-year-old Therese puts her hand with pink lacquered nails in front of her mouth. "Baise-moi!", she emits full of disbelieve, which neatly translated means something like "I'll be damned!". In the thickening masses the sash is pulled over her shoulders, the little crown is put in her royal hairstyle and journalists push a microphone under her nose. "How do you feel right now?" Tears appear in her green-brown eyes. Her appearance becomes even more vulnerable than it was. Therese answers: "I'm moved. I have never been lucky in my life, until now." The nine candidates were smoking heavily while waiting in the dressing room for the grand finale of 10 October. At that moment Therese said to a television journalist: "If I win, I will ask somebody to pinch me in the arm, so I will know for sure that it is real." Now she is a national celebrity and has won a great prize: a year long living for free, with free medication and medical, psychological and social aid.

Cockroaches

Miss Homeless suddenly found herself in the streets last year. "I was allowed to sub-rent the ground floor in a friend's house because there were cockroaches in my own apartment. But he did not inform his landlady and when she discovered me she put me on the street." After a period living outside Therese was able to get into shelter Le Petit Portail in Schaarbeek. That made her less lonely. "Here I have learnt that even among the poorest there's solidarity." Therese did not have an easy life so far. "I got married way too young, at nineteen. Because I wanted to leave home", she tells. " My father used to hit me and he took all my earnings." Her marriage was not much better. "My husband used to drink and then beat me." Therese raised three children on her own, amongst whom a mentally challenged son. Therese worked as a nanny for 25 years. She now receives 1100 Euros pre-pension each month. From that money she has to support her son and pay for her many medicines and sleeping pills.

Drug-trafficker

The battle for the title Miss Homeless already started in January of this year on the initiative of the 18-year-old Aline Duportail and her mother Mathilde Pelsers (52). Aline formerly was a drug-trafficker. At the age of 15 it went wrong and she became part of a violent drug-environment. Her mother helped her get out. Mother Mathilde leads Le Petit Portail, an organisation with five shelters in Belgium. The idea for Miss Homeless emerged after Mathilde secretly enlisted her daughter for the Miss Belgium election and she actually got elected as first lady of honour for the East-Flemish selection for Miss Belgium. This gave such a boost to her self-esteem that she changed completely. Aline wished the ladies in Le Petit Portail to experience the same. She also wants to put the homeless-issue under the attention. Not all misses were homeless, but they all have their problems. There have been many workshops for the participants and there have been many selections in Belgium since February. There were also a lot of sponsors that participated. Out of fifteen finally nine women participated in the grand finale.

Inner beauty

At the end of the festive evening Aline hardly has any voice left but she says: "The girls had so much fun, that is the most important." When the Dutch NCRV-television program Man Bijt Hond heard about the Belgium pageant, it held a Miss Homeless election themselves in Arnhem last January with four ladies. Winner of the show was 20-year-old Amazone, a tough girl that once was in the running for the title of Miss Drenthe. The Belgian Therese van Belle was the elected winner after five different sorts of parading and personal displays. Important were inner beauty and strength, motivation, background story and solidarity. Therese won because she showed the most willing to get out of her tough situation. It is the intention of the organizers that every year a new Miss Homeless will live in the free rental home.

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