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[VIDEO] Face of Kenya UK Lissa Maranga:Selling Kenya as a haven of beauty to the world

LISSA MARANGA

LISSA MARANGA

“When a friend convinced me to apply for FOKUK (Face of Kenya UK), I honestly did not have a clue what it would entail and so I submitted my application half heartedly. As the days go by, I am realising the enormous responsibility and opportunity just being part of the process really is. I have come to learn that a beauty queen title is not born overnight; one has to work hard and want to help others.

It is beyond the physical. That it what FOKUK is all about – to build, connect and enable the youths in the Diaspora and the community to prosper while creating Kenyan Ambassadors that positively portrays Kenya in the UK. Ambassador Having lived abroad for many years, you inevitably lose touch with the day to day life in Kenya. And so the thought of me carrying the mantle of representing my country has awakened a very fierce sense of patriotism that I now realise was dormant.

I have this proud sense of belonging, belonging to this beautiful country Kenya. I was born in Malindi, and brought up by parents working in the Police force. This meant that we moved a lot. I have lived, schooled, and worked in different counties before I moved to the UK. And that’s why I feel my experience in both countries makes me the best contestant.14 other women are competing for the same crown. One of them will become a beautiful ambassador for her country. The more time I have spent in Kenya, the more I love my country.

I love my country, it’s beauty from within, the beauty that I get when I look at that (points at the Michuki Park, along Nairobi River). It is amazing and I want to share that with people. I want them to love my country too. In the wake of political tension and travel advisories, I will be proud to go back and prove the doubting Thomas’ wrong; that yes I came to Kenya but no grenade was thrown at me.

I want to educate people about my country and expose it to them. That explains why I became the first ever Afro-Caribbean representative at the Bournemouth University where I pursued my masters. I challenged the issue of having no African representative in the board and they picked me for the role.The constant in my life is that I’ve always been determined to impact my corner of the world, even before I got to the place where I could do it.

My friends and family appreciate that I have always wanted to make a positive difference in the world, which is why I have constantly contributed to charity. By entering the competition, I hope that I will have the opportunity to make a difference on a much larger scale. If ever I won the lottery, I will build a hospital(s) that provides free medication to all Kenyans. To me, health, like education should be a basic human right. It is no surprise that my charity of choice revolves around health care. They say that when a house burns, you don’t just stand there and ask where the fire came from, instead you put out the fire and think of the source later.

lissa1Confront the issue with solutions. This is the situation we are confronting when it comes to HIV. Most Kenyans have been affected or infected by this epidemic. But the problem is people are not realising and dealing with the problem at hand. We need to protect ourselves and while at it avoid stigmatisation of people living with the virus. We need to confront the issues at hand and for this I chose Nyumbani. Nyumbani Children’s Home is my charity of choice.

As a country, we need to prevent mother to infant infections. Yes, we need to improve our medical practices. Most of all, we need to keep advocating for everyone who needs treatment to get it.Therefore, I plan to rally pharmaceutical companies to lower their drugs prices so that those drugs can become more affordable or appeal to them to relinquish the patients on their drugs so that companies, which make generic drugs can be able to make the drugs cheap.

My strategy or rather our best strategy should be to keep people from getting infected with the virus and treat those already infected. We cannot also ignore the fact that we have a generation of orphans living with the virus. Nyumbani Children’s Home provides a home for these children. They teach these children to be self reliant and give them a place to call home and a sense of belonging.

During my break in the country, I visited the home and noticed their in-house laboratory. As it is, they have no capacity to research on the cure and so I have organised a fund raising event, a sky dive in London to raise funds for the home. A skydive is as extreme as it gets, but I’m praying that those who believe in this cause will donate and it will be worthwhile in the end,” she says in conclusion.

More at :www.faceofkenyauk.org/lissa

The People

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