Raising a young model with passion for the environment

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 07:34 | By
Taja Taraji Biko and her mother Joy Aoko after the Little Miss Universe crowning event. PD/COURTESY

Seven-year-old Tasha Taraji Biko, is among the young models who were recently crowned at the Little Miss Universe gala event, which was held on April 22 in Nairobi. While there were three categories being contested for, she emerged the winner in her category, getting crowned as Little Miss Universe, Kenya.

“The competition was tougher than the ones I have been before because there were a lot of people. But I did well too. And I was the winner. I am happy because I also got the big crown! I felt very good,” shares the young runway queen about the recent competitions and her win.

What had begun as a mere thrill on a mummy-daughter day out last year has now got Tasha crowned as a beauty queen with three different titles: Little Miss Bungoma, Mini Miss Environment and the most recent, Little Miss Universe.

While she had been aware of her daughter’s passion for conserving the environment, Joy Aoko was caught by surprise when she requested to participate in the beauty pageants.

“Tasha has always been a go-getter and she has been keen on keeping her environment clean. Way before we realised her passion, she would collect all garbage around her to make sure her environment was clean.

First competition

“The journey in modelling though, began last year when we had gone out for lunch and swimming. It just happened that there were some children who were rehearsing for an upcoming runway event. This instantly got her attention and she excused herself to go and watch them closely. She quickly gathered information that there was an upcoming event, which was on December 14. It was only two weeks away, but she was determined to take part as well. Seeing how badly she wanted it, I had no choice but to register her for the competition,” shares Tasha’s mother.

She participated in her first competition, Little Miss environment, which was held on December 14 in Kitale and emerged the winner.

With an inborn passion for the environment, Tasha has since served as the environment ambassador in the county, participating in tree planting events in different schools within her region, keeping her environment clean by collecting recyclable plastic and participating in many other charity events that she is invited to by different stakeholders.

This passion for trees as the young beauty queen shares, was sparked by her mother, who is equally passionate about the environment.

“My mother loves to plant trees. I watched her doing it several times since I was young and it was fun to do, so I also started doing it. Being a model gives me the chance to showcase my talent while also showing other young people how to keep their environment clean and also planting trees,” she shares.

Starting in December, she has since participated in tree planting activities in several schools both primary and secondary within Bungoma. Her target is to plant 10,000 trees.

“Aside from planting trees, I also get to go for trips!” she shares excitedly.

Being the parent to a young talented environmentalist and runway model, means Joy, has to give her daughter all the support she needs.

“After registration, for the first competitions, they would always meet at Tourist Hotel in Bungoma for practice every 2pm during the holidays and on Saturdays on school days. Despite my tight work schedule, I had to make sure she attended these meetings. She also did not have much knowledge about the runway, and this prompted me to look for avenues where she watched teen models perform on the runway and emulated them. It started dawning on me that she always had much interest, but I only realised her dream at the age of six years. As a parent, I had to support her, be with her during the training, see how she performs and take her through a few steps and teach her how to make her speech,” shares the young mother.

Mother’s support

Financially supporting her passion has also included making sure she has all the outfits that fit the categories of each competition including; helping her ace the introduction — where a model gives a brief summary of themselves; creative wear— where a model showcases how creative their dressing is; sportswear activity — where they showcase the sports they love most and finally talent wear where the children showcase their talent, (for Tasha she sings well).  

There are also additional categories such as cultural activities dressing to promote culture, question and answer forum, where judges get to ask questions and finally — dress in dinner wear for the crowning. While it might be a lot, the proud mum says it is all worthy.

“It is not easy at all. I have to sacrifice my time— I have to go to all the competitions, some of which are held in different counties. I also have to make sure she has all her outfits and everything she needs. So, I do spend a lot of money and time. But being on the runway and following her passion has really enhanced her creativity. Which I believe is also very vital, especially with this new Competency-Based Curriculum, which empowers creativity. She thinks about how to creatively create her outfits using items from her natural environment, she recreates a lot of things out of the plastics she collects. She is also brilliant in her class as well, and performs exceptionally well in her class. I can attribute this to the passion as well,” shares the mum.

While there are no financial returns at the moment, Joy shares that she is very happy with her daughter’s achievements and has faith that she will be gracing much bigger pageants in the coming future.

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