Miss East Africa UK - Maureen Nyakaira

Source: misseastafrica.co.uk/maureen

My name is Maureen Nyakaira. I was born In Mulago, Kampala, Uganda on 25 June 1986 to Mr Joseph and Mrs Rose Nyakaira. Sadly, I lost my mother at the age of 4 and so never got to know her well. I am a student at Queen Mary, University of London studying Physics. I have recently just moved out of home in Chingford where I was living with my parents and my lovely and intelligent younger brother Michael, aged 11 in order to live closer to University.

At present, I am Miss East Africa UK 2007. The night I won Miss East Africa was the most amazing night of my life, 1/09/2007. I still remember how it felt, surprising and overwhelming joy. Winning the title has also changed my life in many ways. My life had never been in the limelight until that night. I am still working on making my passion for helping the invisible; under privileged Children a reality and seeing my dream for changing their lives come true.

In Uganda, I attended Pentecostal Primary School in Mbarara District for P.1 and 2 living with a large family where we were looked after by my Grandmother, then Nkumba Primary School which is in Entebbe for primary 3-7. I lived here with many of my cousins, brothers, sisters and nieces and other relatives. We were looked after by Grandmother whom I adore so much. She ensured we were well fed and loved us all equally. We were a very big family and I miss the unity we had. Our home was the centre for all the other family members. Christmas and other holidays were the best days when all the relatives would come to celebrate.

Unfortunately, my Grandmother decided to move to the village in Fort portal, Western Uganda when I was in P5 and that was the beginning of division. The house we were living in was sold and some of my sisters, brothers, cousins and I moved in with our Auntie just nearby. Shortly after our arrival she lost her job and so life became miserable with barely enough food. We began fetching firewood to cook rather than buying charcoal and many of the nights sleeping hungry. All we depended on was prayers and surviving each day. This explains my reasons for sharing the pain the poor children are going through as I am a living example and I have been through it. This lasted for two years till I finished my P7 with grade 5, which is an excellent mark.

I was then uncertain about applying to a top school as I was aware of my Parents financial struggle and that they could not afford it. Previously, I was often excluded from school for lack of school fees payment. However, my father, being a very kind caring and loving individual he did all he could to get me to a good school. He did not want to let me down as I passed with high grades. He then got me into Mary Hill High School in Mbarara which is an all girls boarding school. I was very happy there even though I never had the good things that my friends had. I always knew that my father who at this time had come to UK had sacrificed a lot just for me considering he had a huge family to cater for. Eventually due to my hard work at school I was a warded a bursary. During the holidays I would go to my step mother's place in Bwayise, Kampala which became my home then. She is the best mother in the whole world for me and I love her with all my heart. She provided some of the necessities for my school and also visited me when she could. She was always there for me during my time at this school. My elder brother Patrick performed most of the fatherly duties by visiting me whenever he could and I really appreciate all he did for me.

Suddenly, the Good news that was to change my entire life came when I was in S.2. My father arranged for me, my mother and youngest brother Michael to join him in UK. The process took a while during which time I moved to a day school, Kyambogo College School as I was needed frequently for the process. I joined the school for S.3 and S.4 living with my brother Patrick. We finally left for Federated States of Micronesia in May 2003 where my father had moved to work before coming to the UK in December 2003. I left before completing my O level final exams and so had to start a fresh in the UK.

I started off with GNVQ intermediate in Business at Waltham Forest College as the schools thought I was too old to attend the normal schools. In addition, coming to the UK in December, schools had already started meaning I had to wait for the next year. I did my GCSE English and Maths in an Adult centre and then realised that I enjoyed studying science rather than business so I studied Btec National Diploma in Applied science at Waltham Forest College last year.

Initially I had planned to go to University in Cardiff Wales but considering that my duties as Miss East Africa UK require frequent visits to London, I opted to go to Queen Mary so that I could be more effective in both my role as Miss East Africa and my academics.

After Queen Mary this year, I plan to transfer to another University (not sure yet which one. It may be Cardiff) to major in Medical Physics as this is not offered at Queen Mary. I am still learning to balance both my University work and my role as the queen but I'm coping because the passion I have for my duties out weighs the stress involved in coping with both.

I want to concentrate on my studies and my duties as Miss East Africa before I can commit myself to a relationship. I like Swimming and playing chess. Like most girls, I like Shopping and dressing up.

The future looks bright for me because my dream as being an ambassador for these Children has come true and with God's help, I shall do my best to make their lives better with whatever means I have.