Beauty with a purpose

Beauty queen Salome Munyaka has overcome great odds to reach the heights she has achieved. By becoming a finalist at the Miss Africa Washington Pageant 2016, she seeks to use the platform to shed a light on the horrors of domestic violence and abuse.

On who she is

‘My name is Salome Munyaka. I was born in the land of green highlands a land that is home for over 1000 birds and unique animals a country known for its historical sites, the land from Eastern Africa, Kenya. I am currently a fulltime student at Highline College in Washington State and I’m currently pursuing my AA Degree in Business with an emphasis in accounting. It is with great pride and honor that I accept this invitation to be a finalist in the first-ever and prestigious Miss Africa Washington Pageant 2016.’

On the pageant

‘This pageant has created a first-ever, in the whole of Washington state, a platform for young women from across Africa and the world to pursue their dreams and raise awareness for important social and political issues. I believe for me and my country this is an opportunity to raise awareness and speak for the silenced issue of domestic violence.’

On her background

‘Kenya has a rich heritage and culture centered on family and the man as the head of the family and usually having the last say on every matter. Unfortunately, domestic violence is not considered a problem or an issue in the society. The government terms it as ‘family wrangles’ that are handled at the lowest level of judicial control. This has led many women and children to suffer in silence because there is no place to seek for help, not in the community, in the government or in the family.

I was 14 years old when my mum was battered all night almost to death when she finally took the bold step and left my father. This led to her being stigmatized and reprimanded by society and by family, she finally had to flee Kenya because her life was put at risk by my father as she had refused to return home.

She ran to the government but they termed her complaint as a ‘family wrangle’ that she could solve between herself and my father. In the end she received no help whatsoever. Moving from Kenya is what saved her life. It took her to fleeing from her motherland to get refuge.

Now as her daughter, whom she had no choice but to leave behind, I suffered for 7 years under my father’s wrath until I also fled for my safety. Now because I am in a safe environment I want to use this opportunity to try and reach out to other victims like me here in Washington and in the future, back in Kenya, to empower them to save themselves and also empower others like them.’

On her mission

‘I no longer want to simply be another story but rather I want to be a voice and to raise awareness in my country that domestic violence is a serious issue and needs to be tabled and measures be put in place because it affects the future of the country. The generation of children we are raising is at risk.

I am currently reaching out to the Kenyan community, to women and children who are victims in order to understand their stories and help them cope with it and seek help due to the trauma. I believe before we can go back to Kenya to save others we need to heal from our own trauma and seek courage and strength. We need to be strong for ourselves and also others to be able to work together to help not only the victims but even the abusers.’

On her vision

‘Should I have the honor of becoming Miss Africa Washington 2016 I will use this experience in working first hand with the victims around me, the women and children in Washington to start their healing process. I wish to collaborate with the existing organizations to help deal with the trauma that comes from domestic violence. I wish take and use every opportunity during my one year of service to help each and every person that comes my way, through educating them, therapy sessions and empowerment workshops. I believe this will be an honor for my country as well as for me and I will not only gain a lot from this experience this will transform my country’s view on domestic violence and I will create the pioneer program to change Kenya and ultimately Africa.’

The pageant takes place on 3rd September at the University of Washington Kane Hall

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