From walking the ramp and actively participating in charity events to clinching a prestigious international title in a pageant in the US, ten-year-old Cien Jacob – who is the pride of the Malayali diaspora in the UK – has stardust on each step she takes towards achieving greater heights
– Renjith Leen
Whenever UK-settled Malayali couple Manoj Jacob and Reshmi go out shopping or attend social events, they face this question – “Are you the parents of Cien Jacob?” – which brings a smile to their face. The reason? Their ten-year daughter, Cien, is the cynosure of all eyes in Gloucester, where they reside, especially among members of the Malayali diaspora. From ramp walks, fashion shows and community service to endorsing charities and winning titles in prestigious global pageants, this Class V student has more feathers to her hat than one can imagine.
She became the talk of the town literally last year when she represented the UK at the Pure International Pageants in Florida, USA, last year and won the Pure International Little Miss title 2019-2020. She effortlessly blazed her way through the 12 rounds, including the gruelling interview session before winning this celebrated title. It was the crowning achievement of this student of St Peter’s School who has an array of titles and honours under her belt.
Cien’s first encounter with fame goes back to the time when she was a toddler. “She was just two when we made her take part in a photo contest organised by a local daily. Out of 900 participants, she was one among the 20 to be shortlisted,” says her mother. “When she was five, she won the Little Heart competition and there has been no looking back.”
When asked about winning the Little Miss title, Cien said it was one of the best moments in life and it felt awesome to receive the tiara and sash. It all began when her parents enrolled her in the pageant’s UK-level competition which took place in July 2019. “Participants have to meet several criteria, including mandatory charity work and they have to prove their mettle in public speaking, talent round, fashion round, evening gown session and a rigorous interview with a seven-member panel,” says Reshmi, whose husband is a businessman.
There were six contestants and Cien represented England. One of the tasks she faced was fund raising for charity and she helped raise 900 pounds, winning a special award for that. The rounds were judged by experts from the US. Little Cien’s, confidence, eloquence and her outstanding performance in community service and charities won her the Pure International Little Miss United Kingdom 2019 title.
Cien, who loves to design dresses, also clinched the ‘Spirit of the UK’ title in the US event. There were more than 300 contestants of all ages for this title and she was among the two winners, says Reshmi, who is her daughter’s coach and mentor. From teaching her to sashay on the ramp to honing her presentation skills and designing Cien’s attire for each round, Reshmi does it all with panache.
Being a title winner comes with lots of responsibilities and the most important aspect is charity activities. “I am part of the ‘Feed the Hungry’ initiative where we cook food at home and give it to the poor and homeless on the street. I love to do it because I believe the poor too deserve to live like us,” says Cien who finds time to help her mom in the kitchen and accompany them to serve the dishes to the poor. “It doesn’t matter how small you are, you still can make changes around you,” she said in the US event at the end of her speech, which prompted the organisers to immediately update their website and include her comment.
Reshmi also cooks for charity events where the dishes are sold and the proceeds go for that cause. In all such events, Cien plays the role of serving the food with a smile donning the ceremonial sash. She is also closely involved with the local community and during events and fundraisers, she performs fusion dance and whatever pocket money she gets goes to charities she endorses. In fact, every activity is meticulously recorded as per the pageant mandate and she has to observe a certain code be it in carrying herself, talking to the public or choosing her attire.
Cien, who loves to visit her grandparents and relatives in Cherthala, Kerala, has taken part in scores of events hosted by the local Malayali community. Equally passionate about being footloose, she has bagged an array of prizes in contests organised by the local Malayali association in both single as well as group categories. She was at the vanguard of the fundraising activities for Kerala when the state was rocked by the devastating deluge in 2018.
This bubbly girl who loves to ride her bicycle and do creative stuff, loves Kerala crab curry, chips and sushi. “I love Keralan food, which is very tasty,” she says. “Manoj and I are particular that we do not coerce her to do anything. But, of course, we supervise her activities,” says her mother. With her radiant smile and golden heart, this little girl aims to attain greater heights and make a change in society.