• Initiative aims to help needy girls and women
Fresh from putting Kenya on the map, Miss World Kenya 2019 Maria Wavinya is tackling menstrual poverty through her beauty for purpose project, 'Heels for pads'.
She arrived on Monday morning from London, where she had competed in the Miss World competition.
Wavinya, who emerged an impressive overall 6th position out of 119, was given a queen's homecoming at the Villa Rosa Kempinski.
Speaking to Word Is on Monday, she said, "We take a pair of heels and give them away in exchange for sanitary towels. We then give them to places where girls and women are struggling. We teach them menstrual hygiene and empower them."
Wavinya described her experience in London as life-changing. "My roomate was Rebecca from Ghana, but I also made friends with Miss Venezuela. We didn't speak the same language but we translated it through phones. Jamaica was an angel and was easy to work with."
The project means so much to her. "I want to put a motherly smile on each and every little girl out there. The experience in London was fantastic. Every nation had chosen their best, I can proudly say I met sisters and family," she said.
"I learnt that beauty is a matter of how you express it and what you make other people feel. That was unforgettable."
Wavinya was also welcomed by Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia. "Now young people from Nyandarua can see themselves as great. What was deemed impossible is now possible," he said.
"We need to appoint her and get her to join the first lady and teach young people how to overcome impossibilities. They say genius is being focused, multiplied by continuous improvement and multipled by time."
Mr and Miss World Kenya franchise owner Miss Terry Mungai, who is also the Ashleys Kenya CEO and founder, said, "We wanted to give her a warm welcome so that she feels loved and celebrated the way she should be."
Adding, "Maria has fought and I believe it is prayers that propelled her. It was a tough competition. Ten ladies didn't make it because they didn't have Visas, but the Ashley's Miss World Kenya office managed to get, so she ended up competing with 119 ladies.
"She was the darling of the media because she was very authentically Kenyan. We brought with us a gift of a bronze elephant and a baby. It was auctioned for 20,000 pounds (Sh2.6 million). She put Kenya on the map."
Asked about her opinion on black girls winning world pageantry competitions this year, she said, "That is an achievement. However, it is not about the skin. Underneath the skin we are all the same. This time round, they considered the fact that beneath the skin we are all beautiful and they gave the girls who deserved it the positions."