Maria Wavinya – Miss World Kenya 2019 – 2021
I was crowned on the 5th Oct 2019 and the only way I can describe the feeling that night was ecstatic. This was beyond my wildest dreams. In as much as I always wanted to be a model, on the day of the finals I had a mix of emotions and they honestly increased as the models got shortlisted, I didn’t know what to expect.
Everything seemed to happen so fast but I remember murmuring a prayer saying “Dear God, I’m ready for your surprises. Keep surprising me.” I eventually ended up on the 6th position overall in the finals and 2nd in Africa in the Global Miss World finals.
Preparation for the international competition was not easy. By the time I was auditioning for Miss World Kenya, I had only recently finished High School and was new in the modelling world. I can’t say thank you enough to Ashleys Kenya, the franchise owners of Mr and Miss World Kenya and more so Mrs. Terry Mungai for not only seeing the diamond in the rough but for taking extra time towards training me for the grand stage. I had to learn how to walk, talk and see myself as a World Class model.
The lessons in cat walking, speech and etiquette were intense but came in handy when I needed them the most.
Traveling to London was my first time on an international flight. Although quite daunting, especially at Heathrow Airport, I knew I carried the hopes and dreams of my country and I had to do so with pride. My experience in London was incomparable and truly memorable. From the early morning workout routines to the team activities and individual challenges all under the ever seeing eyes of the planners, it was quite a task but I was up to the challenge.
I took part in several disciplines such as beauty with a purpose, head to head, top model and sports where I was placed in top 10 athletically.
The social impacts of the reign have really been great. I have had the opportunity to meet some dignitaries in Kenya such as Cabinet Secretaries, County Governors and also attending state events. One of my personal highlights was when the County Government of Nyandarua, my home tu” threw a banquet in my honour right before I left to represent the country at the Global Miss World finals. This was not only heart warming but added an extra boost to my confidence.
The beauty with a purpose project that I selected focused on ending Period Shaming and Poverty. I partnered with Heels for Pads, a non-profit organization that seeks to elevate the status of women when it comes to their monthly cycle as well as to distribute as many pads as possible to ladies in marginalised environments.
For the last year and a half we have traversed across the country from areas such as Muranga, Baringo and to slum areas such as Mathare and Kibera. Cumulatively, we have distributed pads to at least 5,000 young women.
In addition, I have donated several of my heels, including the ones I wore the night I was crowned Miss World Kenya, to be auctioned and the proceeds to be given towards purchase of more pads.
This has gradually shifted from being a beauty with a purpose project to being a passion project and will forever have a place in my heart.
I’m grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity I would not have it any other way. I have managed to impact thousands of young girls’ lives and in turn also won a scholarship to attend University.
My service to the project and the community will not end with my reign, I look forward to creating opportunities for other young girls to become better people.
My advice to upcoming models and those looking at auditioning for this year’s Miss World Kenya beauty with a purpose pageant is, not to see it as a competition but as a challenge; a chance to grow and learn valuable skills. As my favorite quote by Shakespeare says “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them”.
To the winners, use it as an opportunity to shine light on others and remember “Beauty always had a purpose; to be of service to life” by Nikos Kazantzakis.