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Joan Musumba: From Runway Model to Climate Crusader

Arts Lounge

“We are almost reaching the tipping point of the planet and this is dangerous. I call upon every individual to contribute to the restoration of the earth’s climate in their own small way and better still to teach our children about conservation values now because they are our future to prevent further worsening of the earth,” Joan starts us off.

Joan Musumba is a powerhouse that went from modelling to advocating climate-smart conservation by educating and mentoring children on climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

Not so long ago, Joan was strutting the runway and was crowned Miss University Kenya and Miss Kenyatta University at some point. But beneath the glitz and glamour, Joan knew she had a bigger purpose.

She admits that this uniquely enabled her to spearhead her humanitarian work through Little Mister and Miss Environment Kenya and Little Big Talents Foundation.

The two organisations seek to raise a generation of young environmental ambassadors (Children in Climate Action Kenya) and provision of quality standard education for vulnerable children in Kenya.

“This is not really a shift. There is a strong correlation between pageantry and humanitarian work. At around the same time when I was crowned Miss Universities Kenya, the climate crisis had started becoming an emerging issue.

“I thought what better way could I give back to my country and the world other than being a voice for the earth?” she says.

Joan says she has witnessed firsthand the devastating impacts of climate change on communities and the environment and this made her delve deep into the matter.

“Many young people don’t understand how climate change affects their daily lives, I want to give them the knowledge and tools to make a difference,” she says.

Joan later started the first talent development and education academy in Kenya, Little Big Talents. This was in 2018.

Her role is to monitor and ensure strategic implementation of the academy’s vision, developing and managing relationships with partners, friends to the academy and an array of other stakeholders.

“I started the academy with the aim of encouraging children to come out to discover and explore their talents following the biblical advice ‘Your gifts shall make room for you’,” she says.

40 Under 40

The aspiring politician is the Africa 40under40 winner 2023 under the Environmental and Climate sustainability category.

“I earned this award as a result of the conservation and restoration work we do with the children in my organisation. I run an organisation that seeks to involve children in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“We have done a number of projects but mainly focused on tree planting as it’s the main and surest way of carbon sequestration,” she says.

“This award actually belongs to these children and not just me. Winning this has opened a lot of opportunities from increased government and stakeholders support to partnerships and collaborations within Africa,” she adds.

In conjunction with her organisation, they have already planted over 5,000 trees.

She says Little Big Talents s is not just another tree-planting academy, but also a talent-nurturing centre.

This month, the academy will host Little Mister and Miss Environment event.

The theme this year is ‘Solutions to Plastic. “We are devising ways towards a plastic-free world. On the same day we shall be awarding these young advocates for the good work they do for the environment,” she says.

Joan believes that she was born to do all that God created her to do and achieve this through service to humanity.

“My Life has been a roller coaster, but I would never change a thing about it. I have learnt through challenges and failures and thrived through the successes and I guess that’s what makes life interesting and I would very much be happy giving back to society as well as serving my purpose on earth.”

Joan has achieved quite a feat but she believes it's nothing compared to her dreams.

“I am yet to get my greatest achievement because what I have attained so far is nothing compared to the dreams I have, but I have been able to be an African Climate award winner, establish an academy and the organisation, created a belt of children in climate action all over Africa and seen a couple of children living their dreams through talent merit,” she says.

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