18 April 2019

Kenya: Kemri Offers to Solve Puzzle of Lookalike Teens' Identity

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Photo: Jared Nyataya/Daily Nation
Sharon (left) and Melon pose for a photo during their emotional reuninon on April 16, 2019.

Two identical girls who suspect they were separated at birth in 1999 will soon find out if they are indeed related.

Sharon Mathias and Melon Lutenyo, who reunited on Tuesday last week in Furfural village, Likuyani, Kakamega County, made an emotional plea for a DNA test. Their prayers seem to have finally been answered.

The matter caught the attention of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), which on Wednesday expressed willingness to fund the DNA testing process.

"This is a matter of public interest and to bring it to closure for the interested parties, Kemri will be willing to offer DNA services if requested," Prof Sam Kariuki, Kemri's Director Research and Development, told the Nation on Wednesday evening.

Both girls are KCSE candidates. Sharon studies at Shikoti Girls High School while Melon is at Kongoni Secondary School. Both schools are in Kakamega County.

They said they would like the matter to be cleared as soon as possible so that they can focus on preparing for their national exams at the end of the year.

"We are appealing to any well-wisher out there who is willing to fund us to do so before we open school for the second term. We want to be at peace after knowing our identities," said Sharon.

She also appealed to professional counsellors to come out and help them cope up with the new development in their lives.

DNA TESTING

"It is also our wish that before and after the DNA, we will get professional counsellors to help us cope with the outcome," she added.

According to Melon, the unfolding events have put both of them in a strange situation, although they are happy to know each other.

"Since we arrived at Furfural market from Nairobi, we have been receiving so many people especially from the media. This is a new experience for us and within no time we have become celebrities," she said.

The two said that their parents had also been plunged into a dilemma and were also eager to know their identities.

"My mother who is in Nairobi wants to know what went wrong. And back in Furfural, the other family is anxious but all I can say is that I will not abandon Sharon no matter the outcome of the DNA test," explained Melon.

Their sentiments were echoed by Mevis, who has been Sharon's twin sister since they were born.

"I also want the DNA test to be done so that I know whether my mother is Rosemary Khavereri Onyango or Angeline Omina, who stays in Kangemi, Nairobi, because as an individual it might affect me in future," said Mevis, maintaining that she will always respect the two women as her parents.

The parents of the three teenagers said they would be satisfied after the DNA is conducted. They also urged the government to step in and help them offset DNA expenses.

STRIKING RESEMBLANCE

"The results will give us peace because I will have known if I'm the mother of the children I have been raising, but I will accept the outcome of the DNA test as long as we get the government's support," said Ms Khavereri.

Mr Richard Lukokha, Sharon's father, said he was eagerly awaiting the DNA test results.

"I would really appreciate if my children could get professional counsellors to talk to them because they are still young and still in school," he said.

On Tuesday, there was joy and celebration at Furfural after the identical girls arrived.

Sharon and Melon grew up without knowing about each other's existence but things changed when they joined high school.

One day last year, Sharon's schoolmates met Melon during a school event and when they returned to their institution, they informed her what they had seen.

Later, Melon's teachers met Sharon during a motivational talk at Masinde Muliro university. The striking resemblance shocked them.

With these developments and having heard about each other, they soon connected on Facebook after Melon was shown Sharon's Facebook link and she sent a friend request.

GOT ACQUAINTED

"After our schoolmates and teachers told us of our resemblance, we were forced to get acquainted, even though we were at first hesitant," said Melon.

During their interactions on social media, the two said they would joke about how similar their photos appeared.

"It got to a point where I would refer to Sharon as a 'ghost' while she used to call me 'devil' as it was unbelievable. We had so many similarities," said Melon.

"There is this day I met Melon's father who referred to me as his daughter, but I would hear none of it since he was a total stranger to me," Sharon recalled.

"I had to rush and board a vehicle before he could create a scene."

Sharon's sentiments were confirmed by Mr Lukokha, who said he first met her in December 2018 at the Kitale bus stage in Kakamega Town.

"When I saw her I thought it was my daughter who had come to visit me. When I called out her name she did not answer me," said the father of 10.

"This prompted me to call my wife and tell her that our daughter had snubbed me. I had a lengthy argument with my wife. It went to the extent that I deleted her number from my phone. I was later told that that was not Melon but a student from Shikoti who resembled my daughter."

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Kakamega 'Twins' Reunite 19 Year After 'Separation' At Birth

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