Dr Abdullahi Adan, Consultant : Plastic , Reconstructive and Aesthetic /General Surgeon at Platinum Surgery Centre [Elvis Ogina/Standard]

An extraordinary past

Marci Bowers, 61, was born Mark Bowers in Oak Park, Illinois, at the same hospital that gave the world Ernest Hemingway.

She was the target of bullies in high school - "because I was so slight and feminine appearing," she says.

When Bowers transitioned at age 37 - while married and with three children - it cast a years-long chill on her relationship with her parents. It was not until Bowers' father was dying of cancer that they reconciled.

Dr Abdallahi says, he bonded with Dr Bowers because they both stood for one universal belief and interest - bring dignity, happiness, joy and focus to people who were in emotional turmoil because their rights had been violated and abused.

"We draw our lines on not who we are, but what we believe in - boosting happiness is a big deal, and the belief in our work in Kenya is that FGM victims remain the most vulnerable citizens in the society, facing staggering rates of rights abuse and violence," explains Dr Abdallahi.

New lease on life

besides adding value and bringing back dignity to victims of FGM, the two doctors are also training local doctors to perform clitoris reconstruction surgeries.

"Today I am free, I am confident, and of course for the first time in my life, I feel dignified and happy having recovered a part of me that was brutally ripped off me at the age of 13," says Rukia Zubeda, from Tana River.

She was one of the lucky survivors to have been on the list of the 50 surgeries that were performed by the two doctors in this year's charity camp in November.

Back at home, Dr Bowers has performed more than 500 clitoral restoration procedures for survivors of FGM immigrant survivors

Together, the two doctors have performed over 300 charity surgeries since Dr Bowers first travelled to Kenya in 2017 and followed it with another visit in 2018, before Covid-19 happened to challenge her travel for the next three years.

"The just concluded surgeries are the third of the Charity Mission Camp, an event we focused on turning into an annual event," said Dr Abdallahi in the late 2022 interview.

He said Dr Bowers's travels and surgeries are made possible through a partnership with San Francisco-based non-profit Clitoraid.

"These women have been mutilated in such an intimate part of their body, and Dr Bowers is so sensitive to how they feel and what they are trying to achieve," added Dr Abdullahi.