Beauty pageants showcasing the talents wannabe models from across the UK’s black diaspora have been reigning supreme over the last few years. Just last week, another contest, Miss Barbados UK crowned its first ever queen. While these contests do a great deal promote black beauty in all its glory, one important aspect is bridging the gap between those in the diaspora and their countries of origin, even offering help and support in countries that are more often than not, in dire need of a helping hand. Jacqueline Ilumoka, last year’s winner of the Miss Black Africa UK pageant, has certainly taken the need for charitable efforts seriously. This week she launched a new charity to help disabled people in Nigeria.
The charity, named I Am Able Nigeria, intends to raise funds to help buy invaluable items such as wheelchairs, ramps and crutches, that can often be difficult to come by for the poorer citizens of Nigeria who make up a significant proportion of Nigeria’s disabled population. According to the charity, many facilities in Nigeria are not wheelchair friendly and many disabled people in Nigeria are unable to find employment and are forced to beg on the streets.
“As winner of Miss Black Africa UK, part of my mandate is to implement a charity project of my choice so I chose to focus on people with disabilities in Africa,” the 21 year-old Media and Communications student told The Voice newspaper.
“Last year leading up to the finals, I was working with a charity in the UK that supported people with disabilities and it really just spurred me on to focus my own charity work on a similar area.”
Jacqueline hopes to raise at least £6,000 before she heads over to Nigeria at the end of May. This will cover the cost of the equipment, which will be donated to The School of the Handicapped in Ogun State, Nigeria. In order to raise the money, Jacqueline has started a Go Fund Me page (Gofundme.com/qccbbdw8) and will also host a charity gala in May which will include a three course meal, an auction, a fashion show as well as other entertainment.
As a Christian, Jacqueline feels strongly about helping those in need, and believes that she has ‘been blessed to bless others.’
“I’m a woman of faith and I believe God always gives us gifts not so we can just keep them to ourselves but so we can bless others,” she said.
“I believe in supporting the less privileged because you never know when you will be in a situation when you need help. It’s only by grace that I live in this country with a roof over my head, food to eat, abled bodied, many didn’t choose to be in the position that they are in but it can happen to anyone.”
“So why not be a blessing to others so you can also be blessed too? It’s all about making your life count and trying to make a difference. People say ‘you can’t help everyone everywhere’ but you can still help someone somewhere.”
As an organisation, Miss Black Africa has been committed to organising charitable acts across Africa. Miss Black Africa 2013, Sonia Ike, launched the Queens4Africa Library Project which provided a library for pupils at a local Nigerian primary school.