Loyce Lihanda, the reigning Miss Albinism Kenya, has refused to let the colour of her skin hold her back and in effect triumphed over prejudice.
She shares her journey to her prestigious achievement, recounting the setbacks early in life that included fellow pupils flocking to feel her skin in bemusement.
Loyce recalls that growing up with the condition was not easy, as it came with its fair share of challenges.
Born in a family of five and being the third born, she says her siblings were very supportive and did not discriminate against her.
“Trouble only started when I joined primary school, where other pupils would come and touch my skin and hair because of the unique colour,” recalls the beauty queen.
She says this made her develop low self-esteem, which eventually affected her grades. Additionally, she says, most teachers at the school were not familiar with her condition, and as result discriminated against her.
“I remember a certain teacher who never understood my condition, most of the time my class work went unmarked. I also had difficulty reading the blackboard, so I had to copy notes from my classmate. Many times she never chose me to answer questions even if I knew the answer and raised my hand,” she added.
Things finally took a new turn when Loyce joined high school. She says she realised her potential and started appreciating her condition.
She started improving in her studies and because of her performance, her peers respected her. Soon she was appointed a school prefect, a position she held for four years.
After her studies at Lady of Mercy High School, Nairobi, she joined Multi Media University to pursue a career in journalism.
Since being crowned Miss Albinism, Kenya out of her passion for modeling, Loyce says she has been using the crown to create awareness among parents with children with albinism
The platform, she says, has given her an opportunity to travel to different counties to create awareness about albinism.
Valecia Bosibori, a gospel musician, and who was crowned first runners-up in the pageant, attributes her success to hard work and support from her family.
She has recorded various songs, among them Namba, Amini and her latest Nitulie. She is also expected to play a lead role in a film that is set to describe the plight of people with albinism in Kenya.
During the commemoration of the 4th World International Albinism Day yesterday, which was marked with pomp and colour, the Government pledged to support people with albinism.
Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection Amb Ukur Yatani said Sh100 million would be disbursed through the Council for People with Disability to support those living with albinism. The funds are expected to be used to purchase and distribute sunscreen lotion across the country.