“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world,” former South African Anglican Church Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, once said.
These words resonate well with eight-8 year old philanthropist, Princess Aileen Akinyi, whose age notwithstanding has taken the lead in putting a smile on the faces of the less fortunate in Kisumu.
Born in the sprawling Nyalenda slums of Kisumu City, Princess Aileen was touched by the poor state of affairs in the informal settlement and started modelling at the age of three.
“I discovered that I could model during my mother’s wedding and through her support I have participated in many beauty pageants winning several awards,” she says.
With support from her mother, Stella Tande, Princess Aileen hit the red carpet running, earning herself accolades, titles and recognition.
Her titles include, Little Miss Humanity, Little Miss Kit Mikay, Mini Miss World Kenya, Tiny Princess Kenya, Little Miss Mazingira Africa, Tiny Miss Kisumu and African Child of the Year.
Over the years, Princess Aileen who is a pupil at Wema Academy in Seme Sub-County, Kisumu, has used the titles and proceeds from her talent to give back to the community and assist the less fortunate.
As a girl of many firsts, Princess Aileen launched her charity organization, ‘Destiny Helpers’, two years ago to reach out to the less fortunate.
Through the organisation where she is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the girl distributes free sanitary towels to underprivileged girls in Kisumu.
She also does Sunday visits to households in the Lakeside County during which she mobilises and distributes foodstuff and clothes to support less fortunate children and the elderly.
“When I see young girls struggling to stay in school without sanitary towels it pains me. This is why I came up with this initiative to support them to stay in school and learn,” she said.
So far, she has spearheaded four back to school drives where school going children and especially adolescents are given sanitary pads and inner wears to comfortably keep them in schools.
During the exercise, mentorship forums are organised where the girls are guided and counselled, following an upsurge in the number of teenage pregnancies in the area.
Most of the girls, she says, are hoodwinked into early sex by randy men in exchange for money to buy sanitary towels, thus forcing them to drop out of school.
Through the Sunday households visits, ‘Destiny Helpers’ Charity Organisation has so far reached out to 12 households which have benefited from foodstuffs and other basic needs.
Out of the 12 families, four have been earmarked to receive support from the organisation to set up small businesses to support them during the post-Covid period.
In yet another first, the little beauty queen has embarked on an ambitious project to reconstruct a house for a destitute family at Kogony village in Kisumu West after it was swept by floods in December last year.
“During our recent Sunday household visits, I came across this family living in this condition and decided I was going to do everything possible to reconstruct the house for them,” she says.
Her humanitarian acts and philanthropy at the tender age has earned her accolades and international recognition.
Last year, she was crowned African Child of the Year following her efforts to assist the less fortunate as families and household economies struggled with the negative economic effects of Covid-19.
She has also been picked as one of the keynote speakers at the International Kids Conference to be held on November 20, 2021, to mark this year’s International Children Day.
Princess Aileen, who founded the Miss Kit Mikayi beauty pageant, an annual event that brings both children and teenagers together to showcase their talents, says parents must support their children’s dreams to enable them to become productive members of the society.
“I want to ask parents out there to support their children’s talents. It doesn’t matter if the children are in slums or villages. Even though I was born in the slums and we stay in the village, my parents still support me,” she said.
Modelling, she says, remains a big challenge to most talented girls back in rural Kisumu because they cannot afford to buy shoes and clothes at the same time pay registration fees and transport to participate in beauty pageants.
To her fellow children, her appeal is for them not to give up, but to take advantage of the various talents and opportunities to make the world a better place to live in.
She looks to partner with fashion designers to promote their products through her social media platforms to raise funds for her charity work.
The little Beauty Queen also appeals to well-wishers to support her initiative to reach more households and children in the area as the economy slowly bounces back.
Her efforts have started bearing fruits as more children in the area have taken que and are participating in environmental management, charity, arts and entertainment to maximise their talents and impact positively on the society.
Through Kisumu Multi Talents Academy (KIMUTA) where she is a member, children from across the county are mentored and taught how to develop their talents.
Moses Otieno, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), KIMUTA, says through the organisation, the children are being helped to identify exactly what they want to achieve through the philanthropic movement.
“Most of these activities are led by the children and they encounter so many challenges but as a mentor, it is my duty to advise and help shape the direction their programs take,” she said.
By Chris Mahandara