Evelyn Makena @evemake_g
The founder of Bride of the Lamb Ministries, Apostle Darlan Rukih, is a household name in Ndhiwa, Homa Bay county where he enjoys a huge following. Darlan, who was born as intersex, grew up shunned by the community and rejected by his close family members, today attracts admiration due to his involvement in community service.
A seasoned gospel musician and businessman, Apostle Darlan, set up a mission centre in 2004 to embrace others who had undergone similar experiences.
The centre is a huge statement of hope for destitute people in the area; It hosts the elderly, orphans, widows, people living with disabilities, the sick, the poor and former inmates.
“The idea was to build a place where underprivileged people could be accepted and loved. I am fulfilled by seeing people who came here sad and depressed regain their smiles,” says Darlan.
The five-acre portion of land in Ndhiwa accommodates up to 370 people with various needs. All have led lives characterised by rejection and suffering. Yet, as they roam around a cluster of concrete and ironsheet houses on a Thursday afternoon, most radiate with energy and smiles.
At the centre they are given shelter, food, clothing, counselling, access to treatment and education for children of school- going age. There is a team of caregivers that range from counsellors, cooks, security guards to church officials.
Among the notable individuals at the centre, are Moreen Akoth, and Victor Odhiambo, intersexes who have found refuge from incessant attacks.
Those of age are rehabilitated and then equipped with skills such as tailoring and carpentry to help them generate an income while the toddlers stay with their mothers and get support from the church.
Children are the majority at the centre. There are about 235 of them, ranging in age from two to 20 years. Many had been rendered homeless while others were abandoned, such as two sisters aged, five and seven who were rescued from the streets of Awendo town, Migori. There is also a two-year-old bubbly toddler, deaf and dumb who was found abandoned in a nearby village while days old.
Then there are the elderly like Jelind Dara, a 78-year-old woman from Bondo, Migori who arrived here in 2008. Jelind was condemned to loneliness after her husband of 27 years died in 1985. The couple had no children.
Despite being sickly, she had nobody to take care of her. At the centre she found a home, a loving family, basic needs and spiritual nourishment and company, especially from 86 other elderly people at the homestead.
There are similar centres in Zanzibar and Mombasa where the church has its branches. Apostle Darlan is now putting smiles in the faces of the underprivileged with the earnings from his businesses and music.