When Nancy Wanja was expecting her first child, she was beside herself with joy, she couldn’t wait to hold her baby in her arms. So, you can imagine her disappointment when she delivered a baby who had both male and female reproductive organs. This also shocked her family members who viewed it as a curse.
The doctors, however, told her that the situation would be rectified through a surgery to remove the male organ. “My baby went for several medical tests and eventually at seven years, the testicles which were stuck in the inside were removed.
When we were preparing to have another operation to remove the penis, my husband who was the family’s sole breadwinner died and my daughter couldn’t continue with the treatment,” recalls Wanja who hails from Kiharu, Murang’a.
Wanja says at her tender age, the girl was not bothered about her condition probably because she was not aware about it. However, as time went by she started realising she was somehow different from other children, as she was not going through the changes that other girls go through during puberty.
Wanja says the girl put a brave face knowing her mother was not in a position to cater for this process. But in school other children used to make fun of her because of her condition.
However, this did not worry her until one day, a group of girls threatened to undress her and confirm if what they have been hearing was true. “I think this was one of the worst days in her life, she has never been scared this much and she even refused to go to school.
But I had to convince her to continue with her studies under the protection of the teachers,” says the mother.
Since that day, she became disturbed and on several occasions, she has made attempts to commit suicide claiming that the stigmatisation around her is too much.
“Last month I found poison in her pocket. She wanted to end her life, but I was lucky I found it in time,” she says, adding: Now I’m worried about leaving her alone at home as I look for casual jobs fearing she might commit suicide in my absence.” She says the 19-year-old girl lives in solitude because nobody wants to socialise with her. “At times, when I see her depressed, I break down because I feel I should help her get treated, but I’m not in a position to do so,” she says.
After completing her secondary education in 2015, the girl who aspires to be a journalist has not gathered enough courage to seek admission at any college fearing that the outside world might be too harsh on her.
“I don’t know how people would treat me after knowing my condition. For now, I find home being the safest place to be,” she confesses to Fusion. In Mugoiri, another family is grappling with the same situation for their son, who is in primary school. The mother says the life of her son has been condemned into solitude.
She says even the younger siblings make funny jokes about him and call him names, which demoralise him. Even in school despite being a bright boy, he is not able to cope with the ridicule from other pupils and at times he stays at home.
One of his teachers says when going to the toilet, the boy has to wait until all other children get back to class to ensure nobody sees him. The mother said she realised the boy was an intersex when he was one year old and she made efforts to have him rectified.
At the age of four, he had the first operation, but due to financial constraints, the mother was unable to seek further treatment for her son.
The two mums are calling on well-wishers to help in raising funds to have their children go through the required medical procedure so that they can lead normal lives. They also want the society to shun discriminating against such children to enable them to mingle freely with other people.