Evelyn Makena @evemake_g
Were it not for her father, 27-year-old Moreen Akoth would be dead today. Her mother wanted her dead when she realised she had delivered an intersex.
The second born of five siblings, Akoth was oblivious of her ambiguous genitalia as a child until she started bathing herself. “I noticed that something was not adding up. I bitterly questioned why I was different,” she says.
Moreen enroled at Mirondo Primary School in Oyugis, Homa Bay county, wearing a girl’s uniform, but staying in school was difficult.“When I sat near the boys or girls, they would chase me away. I was rejected,” she says.
Her father always defended her from verbal attacks from neighbours who already suspected she was an intersex. Unfortunately, he died when she was just 10 years old. Constant mockery from neighbours and hatred from her mother intensified.
Distressed and rejected, Moreen moved to her aunt’s home and enroled in another school, hoping that the new environment would be more favourable. Nothing changed, the ridicule persisted and at home as her aunt mistreated her. She dropped out of school in Class Seven.
Moreen retreated to her homeand turned to alcohol and other drugs to numb her pain. “I spent my time helping my mother till the land or locked myself up in the house,” she recounts. On several occasions, she attempted committing suicide. She even tried to kill her mother due to bitterness.
Her turn-around came in 2015 when she was introduced to Darlan Mission Centre that cares for the intersex in Homa Bay. She has undergone rehabilitation and is gradually learning to accept herself as an intersex. “If you call me a woman, I am fine. If you call me a man I am still fine. I have accepted both,” she says.
She is not alone, 10km from her home, in Kodera forest lives Victor Odhiambo, a shy 20-year-old, who has suffered intense trauma from years of stigmatisation. The last born in a family of nine, he was also born intersex.
Although his mother and siblings openly embraced him, the community subjected him to ridicule. He joined the centre last year and he has since been rebuilding his life. Victor plans to marry a woman someday and is currently dating.