Queen Ivy Chidi is a humanitarian, girl child and autism advocate, fashionpreneur, freelance model, actor, singer and the current Miss Health Africa 2018/19. The Abia State-born speaks with ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM
What informed your decision to go into pageantry?
What really inspired me to contest for the Miss Health beauty pageant was that over the years, while I was in the university, I had volunteered for a lot of NGOs. Also while growing up, I used to go with my mum to petty outreaches in my community. She used to go to the prisons, I was very scared then, so I never followed her to the prison. I grew up in a humanitarian family. They used to help my neighbours in church, I used to attend lots of programmes. I got inspired one day, when my mum gave our school fees to a woman who lost her husband to take care of herself. That’s what inspired me to love mankind the same way I love myself. Coming to Miss Health Beauty Pageant, when I moved to Abuja, I was looking for a pageant where I could actually touch lives, because there are so many beauty pageants in Abuja and Nigeria at large. I was looking for a pageant that was doing something very significant for mankind, and Miss Health stood out. It caught my attention and filled all the notion I heard. Miss Health was just a perfect pageant that I could contest for. Though I had my reservation, I went for and fortunately, I won.r
I was just scared because I was 5.5ft and I heard lots of people saying for you to become a beauty Queen, you have to be 5.7ft upward. So I did a lot of research online and started looking for information and a role model that is of my height, and I realised that even if you are 5.5” you could actually contest for beauty pageant and also do other kind of modelling like facial modelling, body modelling, but you can’t go on runways. So, I was like so who is disqualifying me, I think I’m qualified. I should just go for it.
Heaven knows that in camp, there was a day I wanted to back out. I said no I was no longer interested, let me just go back home because we were just two that were not too tall in the camp. Beside that the stress was too much. The one week I spent in camp was the toughest time in my life. The NYSC three weeks can’t compare to that. It was stressful and rigorous. And the fact that anytime we go on a courtesy visit, you had to present like a manifesto and a particular disease you want to fight against. You are reading, dancing and doing others things. It was very stressful. I was like God, I don’t think I can do this anymore, but then, I just decided to finish it because if I go back home, people would laugh at me. And when I remembered that I’m an Igbo girl that paid money for registration, I told myself I would stay till the end.
And when your name was announced, what was the atmosphere like?
Well…I just knew that the journey had begun. But also it was a mixed feelings. I tried not to cry because I’m a very emotional person. I shed some tears of joy but held myself as I knew the task ahead was going to be much. That’s having worked with some NGOs in their project management team, I have seen the rigorous processes they go through to actually organise medical outreaches. So I knew that there was serious hard work for me ahead. In all, I was happy this is my first pageant show. Let me say I kicked off on a very good note.
My mother screamed Blood of Jesus! (Laughs). My mother says she was going to start fasting and prayers for me. But my dad is actually a very lenient person, he was like OK, fine. But I didn’t tell them how big the pageant was. I actually told them it was an NGO and a beauty pageant, that was what I used to convince my dad, but my mum said no. My parents believe that if you go to school and graduate, you should be working in an office. My mum does not like entertainment but my dad was lenient maybe because he works in a media house like you, he doesn’t have a problem with you being in the entertainment industry. But my mum is very strict, she just wants me to be a career woman. But when I actually won, it was my mum that was broadcasting it everywhere.
Many a time, lots of ladies like yourself have come out to say they were molested during camping by the organisers of these events, tell us what your experience was like at the camp?
A lot of my girlfriends called me to tell them the truth how I won, I won’t lie to you. You just moved to Abuja and you haven’t even stayed up to a year, tell us what happened. The truth is, even in business you do visibility studies. The problem people have is they don’t ask questions before going into something.
I made sure I asked lots of questions. I had to even start becoming friend with beauty queens. Miss Health is actually a very nice pageant, not just because of what they do but due to no girl in camp has come out to say she was harassed by the organisers because we discussed in camp. I didn’t sleep with anyone to win this crown. Nobody even asked for anything. All you had to do was to participate in the camp activities and read the various diseases. We were all given different diseases to study, while the crowd asked us their questions. I wasn’t harassed and I wouldn’t go for any pageant that I would be harassed.
What have you worked on since you became Miss Health Africa and what other plans do you have?
The menstrual Hygiene Campaign/ Personal Hygiene Awareness and STD and STI’s Awareness. We intend to visit girls secondary schools in Abuja, Abia, Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kanu, Cross River, Rivers, Ogun, Lagos etc where we would be educating the girls on menstrual health as well as teach them on how to make reusable sanitary towels and also to distribute reusable sanitary towels to them.
What stood you out from the other girls?
My passion, intelligence and confidence and the fact that I knew what I wanted. Like I always say, I’m first a humanitarian then a beauty queen. I have always been looking for a platform that would enable me showcase my beauty and intelligence and also touch lives. To me, I am fulfilling a mandate rendering services to my society. This is the life I have always wanted and Miss Health is that platform that has enabled me touch and change the lives of young girls, boys, women, men , the aged and the society at large. I am so pleased to be doing something for my country and the world not just thinking of what the society would do for me. This is what I am passionate about, saving lives, giving medical care to the vulnerable women and children, going to rural areas disseminating information about diseases and illness and giving them quality health care. I am doing the work of my father. There’s no grater joy.
Aside Being a beauty queen, humanitarian, girl-child advocate and autism advocate, what else do you do?
I am also a singer. I’ve been singing since I was a kid. I’ve been in a couple of bands and I still sing till date. I am an actor too featured in a couple of movies. I am also a fashion entrepreneur. I have an online store @divaah_collections where I sell female bags, shoes, hair and perfumes. I am also a motivational speaker. My life is motivating too because being a 5”5 and winning a beauty pageant, I have inspired and motivated a lot of girls out there who are passionate about modelling, telling them height is not a barrier.
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