Andella speaks out, defends mom

The following letter was written by Andella Mathews Chilishe as a response to the attacks and subsequent being dethroned by her agent in Zambia Wendy Chanda Fornani.

Andella was Zambia’s envoy to miss universe in the Bahamas which ended two weeks ago.

WHAT’S IN A TITLE?

Andella (Right)

Andella (left)

I would like to thank the Miss Universe Zambia Organisation and all the associated sponsors and supporters, with special thanks to the First Lady for endorsing my sponsorship request that was sent out to the corporate industry in Zambia . I also wish to extend my thanks to Ms Zelipa for her efforts in identifying potential and valued sponsors prior to Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari’s arrival in Zambia. I also wish to thank most sincerely, the Charisma Hotel, the Southern Sun Hotel and the Zambian fashion designers, not forgetting the Zambian people for their support and kind assistance accorded to me during my turbulent and traumatic short-lived reign as Miss Universe Zambia .

I had the most wonderful experience at Miss Universe 2009 competition in the Bahamas , one that I will treasure for the rest of my life. The time I spent and the experiences I gained in the Bahamas are and moments no one can ever take away from me as they now form a part of me. I also take comfort in knowing that a crown or title does not make me the person that I am. Therefore even without the Miss Universe Zambia title, I will carry on representing my beloved country, Zambia at any opportunity that comes my way and I will also carry on with whatever plans I have set out for myself, and make them a success.

However, I would be failing in my obligations to the Zambian people, especially the modeling and beauty pageant industry if I did not elaborate on the traumatic experiences that I endured during my short reign as Miss Universe Zambia 2009.

As you all may be aware, at the time I won the Miss Universe Zambia competition, I was also the reigning Miss Zambia UK, a title that I still hold and will continue to do so until the official hand over to the next winner of the Miss Zambia UK Pageant.

Working with Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari has been a very trying time for me. After winning the competition, the first communication I received from Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari, who is the National Director and Franchise Holder of the Miss Universe Zambia was to ask me why I had not contacted her and if I thought I knew everything. This surprised me, as Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari had not formally informed nor congratulated me on winning the competition. I only found out that I had won when someone saw it on the website.

Prior to winning the competition, I had arranged with a group of my friends from the university to go on holiday to Mexico to celebrate the end of our exams. While I was on holiday in Mexico , Mrs Fornari contacted me to tell me that I was urgently needed to be in Zambia as that was the only way the sponsors would come on board to sponsor my trip to the Bahamas . She said the sponsors wanted to meet the person they would be spending their money on before they could commit themselves. I asked her to send me my flight details and itinerary and reminded her that I needed to back in London on 15th of July 2009 for my university graduation ceremony. She replied a few days later saying that sponsorship was slow, but a lot of corporations were keen to come on board if only they could meet me in person. She also told me that if I can borrow the money for my return air ticket to Zambia , she would refund the money in full when I got to Zambia .

She also sent me the following text message: It’s such a pity coz I have no money right now. As I told U that I used up all 4 ur fees as 5000 dollars plus my trip. Sponsors have asked 2 C U. nobody knows u here, parents can’t help? If not I have 2 take Sthabiso. I will wait till fri then have 2 present a girl. U can go nxt yr. really sorry but have no choice.

That was the first time I felt dethroned. I was distraught that within a matter of days I had gone from winning a title and would soon lose it. I was brought up to honour my obligations and when I explained to my parents they told me to stay focused on the goal at hand.

I managed to borrow some money for a return ticket to Zambia from a family friend. I told Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari I would need to refund the money to my friend on my arrival in Zambia either by Western Union or bank transfer.

Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari called me to say she was thrilled that I had managed to buy a return ticket. I was, however, surprised she did not say anything regarding the refund of the money.

I was very weary of meeting Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari as she had shown a lot of animosity and hostility in her text messages and telephone conversations with me. This had really surprised me, as we had never met before. But my UK manager reassured me that Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari was a lovely person and we would get along fine once I arrived in Zambia . My UK manager thought Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari was behaving the way she was because of the stress and frustrations of trying to raise sponsorship in Zambia , part of which was that my absence might be making the sponsors weary of commitment.

I brushed my reservations aside and I was very excited I had won yet another title, which was going to enable me to represent Zambia and give me another platform on which to do my charity work. I travelled to Zambia excited with an open heart and mind. I was looking forward to working with Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari and starting my duties as Miss Universe Zambia .

When I arrived at Lusaka airport Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari was there to meet me with my sister and cousin. From the airport, we went straight to Intercontinental hotel for a meeting with some local designers. Prior to travelling to Zambia , Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari had informed me that my accommodation for my two-week stay in Zambia had been arranged.

Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari had also informed me that Toyota Zambia had sponsored a car for me to drive around during my stay in Zambia , to launch their new campaign for the new model of Toyota vehicles. She even said the car had my picture on it with the words “Miss Universe Zambia ” and the number plate would be MUZ 1.

To my shock and disbelief, Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari had arranged no accommodation or chaperone for me and there was no car for me to drive. After our meeting with the designers we spent several hours searching for a lodge or hotel where I could stay. Finally, we found a room at Chita Lodge where my sister who was acting as my chaperone had to pay a fee so she could stay with me.

I was surprised that my first full day in Zambia was spent running around looking for sponsored accommodation, something which I thought would have been arranged prior to my arrival, especially that Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari had been in Zambia for two weeks already. Thankfully Charisma Hotel came to my rescue when the hotel manager agreed to accommodate my sister and I for the duration of my stay in Zambia .

For the next 10 days I woke up between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. and Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari would pick me up from the hotel to do the rounds, looking for and meeting with potential sponsors. I would often return to the hotel after 21.00 hours.

During the Trade Fair weekend I travelled to Ndola to visit my grandmother and other members of my family. On the Monday I returned to Lusaka and Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari and I went to meet potential sponsors every day to try and sell our project to them.

On the night before I returned to London Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari arranged a meeting with the all the contestants who had taken part in the Miss Universe Zambia 2009 competition, a meeting she arranged only two hours before the scheduled time. Out of a total of 10 contestants, only two contestants turned up for the meeting. After three hours in the meeting, I told Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari I had to leave as I had a scheduled dinner with my sister. To my disbelief, Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari and her colleague linked hands and stated mocking me in front of the other two contestants and mimicking my voice saying “my sister this, my sister that, my sister, my sister”. I just ignored this. When I was leaving the room I asked Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari why she was doing that and she gave me the look of death and kissed her teeth at me (ukunshuluka no ku nfyola). I left the hotel infuriated and confused!

Throughout my stay, Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari was very patronising and she made it a point to humiliate me, bully me or pass snappy demeaning comments whenever she could. On several occasions, I told my UK manager about this in our telephone conversations and my UK manager kept reassuring me that Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari was not normally like that, and it must be that she is under a lot of stress that was making her behave like that, but things would get better once Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari stress levels had settled. My UK manager and my mother both told me to focus on the goal at hand and to just ignore Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari’s erratic behavior towards me.

I was so happy to be travelling back to London for my graduation. I had endured so much within such a short time with Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari. I have always been corrected or told off, sometimes very severely by my parents, teachers, my boss at work, even other older members of my family like grandparents, uncles and aunties, etc but never in my life has anyone treated me in the manner that Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari did.

After graduation, I returned to Zambia once again with no financial support from Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari. I once gain used my own resources to purchase a return air ticket to Zambia , which Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari told me she would refund together with the first ticket. When I called Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari to let her know that I had arrived in Zambia she accused me of lying and having been in Livingstone for a week with a gentleman whom she had introduced me to.

On my second visit, Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari and I continued to visit potential sponsors. My air ticket was for a week’s stay and I was scheduled to return to London within a week, but Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari requested me to stay for another four days so that I could be present at the a cocktail party she had arranged for sponsors with the First Lady as the Guest of Honour. The airline would not extend my ticket and it was cancelled. Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari said she would buy me a one-way ticket to travel back to London on the Friday night after the cocktail party. Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari told me the sponsors needed me to be present at the cocktail party so they could see the person they were sponsoring.

I was reluctant because I had seen how disorganised both my trips had turned out to be. I had wanted a few days with my parents and to prepare myself before I could travel to the Bahamas for the pageant, but I stayed in Zambia until the 31st. July and Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari did not purchase my one-way ticket to London until a few hours before departure time.

To my surprise, neither the First Lady nor her representative turned up for the Cocktail Party. After the cocktail party, my sister and my friend rushed me to the airport around 10.30 p.m. to catch my flight to London , which was scheduled for midnight.

Apart from the two return air tickets, I had also spent money to purchase a few extra things for me to bring to Zambia such as suitable formal wear for meetings with sponsors and evening gowns for receptions, etc. I returned to London without the money Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari had promised to refund me for the two air tickets. Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari also did not give me any pocket money for me to take with me to the Bahamas as stipulated by the Miss Universe Organisation.

I also returned to London without an official Crown/Tiara or Sash from Miss Universe Zambia .

After spending only one day in London , Wendy telephoned to give me details of my flight to the Bahamas which was schedule the following day, 3rd August 2009 which was the final arrival date for all delegates to Miss Universe 2009. My mother and I went to Gatwick Airport at 6 a.m. only to find that there was no ticket booked for me. I couldn’t help myself I just burst into tears, my mother tried to console me to no avail. I couldn’t hide my disappointment. As horrible as Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari had been to me, I still couldn’t think she would do this.

While my mother had been accommodating of the mistreatment that Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari subjected me to, she just could not take the audacity of Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari making us wake up at dawn and going to the airport, when Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari knew very well she had not paid for the ticket. Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari called me and my mother spoke to her. My mother made it clear to Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari that the way she had treated me was unacceptable.

In my opinion, this was the last straw and my mother, like any other parent, decided to complain to the people of Zambia because I was representing Zambia and had suffered unnecessarily in the process. At no point has my mother accused Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari of taking any money, my mother only wants to know, as I am sure many other people are wondering, what Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari would use the sponsorship money for now that the Pageant has taken place. Considering the sponsorship money was given to facilitate my trip to the Bahamas and to cover my expenses for representing Zambia at Miss Universe 2009. Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari had made me travel twice to Zambia saying the reason was because the sponsors wanted to meet the person they were sponsoring, as they were sponsoring my trip to the Bahamas, and NOT the Miss Universe Zambia Organisation.

Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari finally telephone after 10.00 a.m. on 3rd August, and gave me details of my ticket to the Bahamas on a flight that was leaving at 17.00 hrs from London Heathrow with a 12 hour stop in Boston , then connecting through Miami to Nassau . I arrived in the Bahamas on the afternoon of 4 August 2009, tired and was the last contestant to arrive, having missed the activities of the first two days of the competition.

I was required to arrive in the Bahamas wearing my country title-sash. As I did not have a crown or sash from Miss Universe Zambia , I wore my Miss Zambia UK sash instead.

I emailed Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari from the Bahamas to ask her about my refund and also to inform her that the national costume had been confiscated at Miami airport because it was made of real chicken feathers that had not been treated and still had remnants of chicken excrement and a very strong smell. The customs officer at Miami airport was surprised that I had managed to fly with the costume from Zambia to London Heathrow and on to Miami as this was a major health risk considering all the live stock related diseases going around the world such as bird flu, swine flu, etc.

In my email, I asked Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari for a replacement national costume and Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari did not respond to my email regarding the national costume. I then called the organisers of Miss Zambia UK in London who immediately couriered a replacement national costume to me.

When I further emailed Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari to ask about my money, she replied that it had been a week since we had visited the bank together and she said the account should be opened after the long weekend 4th August. She said that the account had still not been opened and she would send the money when it was opened. Till this day Mrs Wenday Chanda Fornari has not given me my refund. I am still waiting.

All I want from Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari is the refund of the monies I spent representing Zambia at Miss Universe as I believe I am not required to use my own resources because this is Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari’s responsibility as the National Director and Franchise Holder, as stated in the Contract that Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari holds with the Miss Universe Organisation.

Please find below some of the text, email and facebook messages that Mrs Wendy Chanda Fornari sent to me promising to refund me the money spent on my return air tickets to Zambia . And also just to threaten me, intimidate me or simply to have a go at me.

  • 25 June 2009: From: Facebook <[email protected]>
    Subject: Wendy Chanda-Fornari sent you a message on Facebook…
    To: “Andella Matthews” <[email protected]>
    Date: Thursday, 25 June, 2009, 9:12 AM

Wendy sent you a message.

Re: contact

“hi dear…good to hear from you…actually we have just started chasing up sponsors…but i was thinking, if you had anyone who could buy you the ticket we would refund you just so you get here as soon as possible…let me know…im on 0976214246…are you back from mexico ? how is it all going?”

To reply to this message, follow the link below:
http://www.facebook.com/n/?inbox/readmessage.php&t=1169708806991&mid=ad2e83G41f2fbebG8d72e5G0

  • 27 June 2009: From: Facebook <[email protected]>
    Subject: Wendy Chanda-Fornari sent you a message on Facebook…
    To: “Andella Matthews” <[email protected]>
    Date: Saturday, 27 June, 2009, 1:22 PM

Wendy sent you a message.

(no subject)

“we would have the money by the end of july…please try hard…we have work to do and its actually looking good over here….call me later”

To reply to this message, follow the link below:
http://www.facebook.com/n/?inbox/readmessage.php&t=1019818593554&mid=b00c36G41f2fbebG8ef1edG0

  • 29 June 2009: From: Facebook <[email protected]>
    Subject: Wendy Chanda-Fornari sent you a message on Facebook…
    To: “Andella Matthews” <[email protected]>
    Date: Monday, 29 June, 2009, 7:36 PM

Wendy sent you a message.

——————–
(no subject)

hey Andella,
Any luck? the sponsors are waiting for you so we have decided that if you cant make it by friday, we will take the first princess who is already in zambia , as it will be easier to source funds since she is here.
you can go next year, as we really are running out of time now. let me know asap…
thanks
——————–

  • When I asked Wendy to send me a ticket for my first trip to Zambia : 29/06/2009 at 23:44 “It’s such a pity coz I have no money right now. As I told U that I used up all 4 ur fees as 5000 dollars plus my trip. Sponsors have asked 2 C U. nobody knows u here, parents can’t help? If not I have 2 take Sthabiso. I will wait till fri then have 2 present a girl. U can go nxt yr. really sorry but have no choice”
  • 19 July 2009: From: wendy <[email protected]>
    Subject: Re:
    To: “andella matthews” <[email protected]>
    Date: Sunday, 19 July, 2009, 5:29 PM

hi there,
i thought you had abandoned me….i hope you get here for monday it will be great…national gift sorted…national costume being worked on right now….looking up…safique sponsored all the fabric for costume…stilll havent got the coins yet but will by the end of this week…..

hope all is well…see you soon…fingers crossed…its a pity its all taking too long money and that but the cheques are there and as soon as they are cleared i will give you the money for your flight….take care and stay well….need your completed form asap please call if you can…0976214246

wendy

  • On my second trip when I told I had arrived in Zambia : 24/07/2009 6:30 am Andella im not an idiot and thus do not take me as such…honesty is the best policy. I know u have been in zed since the end of last week. Livingstone. What u do is ur busisiness but I hate liars! It will take me a minute to change details at universe. don’t try me”

  • When I told her the person who lent me the money for my first ticket wanted the money back: 25/07/2009 9.41am Hi. Unfortunately the money isn’t ready yet. Delay on opening of account so still have cheque. Was hoping by now would be open. Taking sweet time. They said a business acc. Takes long. Do u want me 2 talk 2 him and explain?

  • When my UK manager asked Wendy about my pocket money: 2/08/2009 14.28 Im so upset right now. If u and Justina wanna b like that then ask justina to give u the money, Seeing that justina is the one u regard as ur director…u totally disrespect me and my efforts so let her do it.!

  • When I asked her about my pocket money: 2/08/2009 19.52 Andella u really have no idea what im tryin 2do 4u.U think I have a prob? I had sorted money and clothes 4u 4rm there but after this morning with ur director telling me the national costume was rubbish and u writing to m elike that, I just wont bother.Honestly, afer all w went throu. Maybe im wrong and ju has done everything 4 u so I musnt say anything and thus she can continue 2do all the hard work 2 c u thru 2 universe. Let me not interfere.u go on and wish u all the best I hope u win coz ive never given up on u but 4rm here I think u r in good hands. Seeing that im inexperienced and don’t know jack.

  • When I email her about my refund and the replacement national costume 9 Auigust 2009: From: wendy <[email protected]>
    Subject: Re:
    To: “andella matthews” <[email protected]>
    Date: Sunday, 9 August, 2009, 12:58 PM

hi andella,

i really dont know what is going on…anyway, i have never hidden from you about the monies recieved or anything like that…i took you to the bank  where you yourself saw that i had not opened the account. i only have a cheque here which i have not cashed and the cheque im waiting for is from coca-cola who also have not given me….i think i sould give you cocacolas number so you can verify everything. it now looks like i have used sponsors monies which are not even there for my own means. this is why i had wanted you to be here to see for yourself exactly who has given us money or not….i have just recieved the email from your mom which she has sent to the post and copied to the first lady…..i wont really say anything lest you quote it as abuse again…..as i have been told in the letter.

as soon as the cheques are recieved and cashed, i will put the airfare money in the same account that i deposited the other monies as promised.

kind regards

wendy

From ANDELLA CHILESHE MATTHEWS

Zambia’s Representative to Miss Universe 2009

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