Martha is excitedly darting around the kitchen of her children's home on the outskirts of Nairobi because today is a special day — her first official birthday.
As one of 17 babies caught up in a child trafficking scandal in the mid-2000s, Martha doesn't know her real age or birthplace. But having received a birth certificate from the Kenyan government two weeks ago, she is celebrating turning 12.
Martha is one of Kenya's "miracle babies", a group of infants found in the hands of people associated with Gilbert Deya, a Kenyan-born evangelical pastor based in London, who convinced infertile or post-menopausal women he could inspire miraculous conception through prayer.
Deya was eventually exposed for running a child trafficking ring that involved women travelling to the Kenyan capital to "give birth" in backstreet clinics, who were then presented with babies that had been abducted or bought. After Deya was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in 2007, the Kenyan government made an extradition request. But Deya is still walking free, resisting extradition on the grounds he will be tortured in his homeland.
Despite the legal controversy surrounding him, Deya has remained active, overseeing a satellite TV channel broadcast in Africa and Europe, an online radio channel, and churches in London, Liverpool, and Manchester. In February, the self-proclaimed "Archbishop of Peckham" — a neighborhood in south London — was exposed selling olive oil as a miracle cure for HIV and cancer.
With the babies rescued from Deya's associates now on the cusp of their teenage years, VICE News tracked 13 of them of down to a children's home which took them in after the scandal broke. More than a decade later, with Deya still ministering to the faithful in London, their true identities remain a mystery.
We also visited Deya's church to see if he could provide any answers — but were met with very short shrift.
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The story of the miracle babies — or at least what is known of them — began in late-2003, when a British-Nigerian woman known only as Mrs E touched down in London from Nairobi cradling a newborn baby in her arms.
After years of being told by doctors that she was infertile, the 38-year-old was ecstatic to have finally become a mother. But when she took the baby to be registered at the doctors, her GP called in social services.
DNA tests showed there was no biological connection between mother and baby, and despite Mrs E's unfaltering belief she had given birth to the child, it was taken into care.
The case led to a bombshell investigation by BBC Radio 4 program Face the Facts, which tracked down a number of other women who had gone to Deya desperate to have children. All of the women ended up travelling to Kenya with Deya's wife Mary and returning with a baby.
In many cases, the women had been convinced by Deya they were pregnant in the months preceding the trips, with many claiming to feel signs of pregnancy — a bloated stomach, enlarged breasts and sickness — but no fetus was detected during ultrasound scans.
A week after the BBC report, police raided the Deyas' house in Nairobi and found Mary with eight infants — one of which was Martha, the girl VICE News found celebrating her first official birthday.
'I suspect the parents sold the babies and don't want to come forward as they will face prosecution'
Mary claimed to have given birth to 15 children, but DNA tests proved six of the eight found in her home were unrelated. At the Nairobi house of another couple — 56-year-old Eddah Odera and her husband Michael, associates of Deya's — another 11 "miracle babies" were discovered.
The Oderas claimed the Deyas helped Eddah to conceive every four months over five years. But again, DNA tests proved there was no biological link between the couple and their supposed babies.
When news of the miracle babies spread, more than 50 families in Nairobi came forward claiming their babies had been stolen from a maternity hospital. But DNA tests never matched any of the parents to the babies found at the two properties.
The children, then aged between a few months and two years old, were taken into care, where they have lived ever since.
While no genetic link appears among any of the 13 who VICE News met, they all consider each other siblings. At the home, everyone chips in, chopping firewood for the kitchen and helping to prepare meals.
In a spacious garden outside, chickens and goats roam around and crops grow in vegetable patches, while kids play in an adventure playground. The home is no palace, with girls' dorms and a boys' dorms each sleeping 25 children, but it is a caring environment. For an abandoned child in Kenya, there are far worse places to be.
'They were born with an identity and became nobodies'
Having all recently received birth certificates, they are excited to have the names they chose for themselves recognized by law. Some have chosen the name of one of the staff members who have acted as their de facto parents over the last decade, and they have all ditched the surnames Deya and Odera.
But while they are content in their huge adopted family, the question of their true identities still hangs in the air. "They were born with an identity and became nobodies," said the manager of the home, who asked to remain anonymous to protect the children's privacy.
"Their families should have been found. It was never established where these children are from," she told VICE News. "I suspect the parents sold the babies and don't want to come forward as they will face prosecution."
The manager says she has always been truthful to the children about their background.
"We speak to them openly; the aim is to make them confident to deal with it. One day they may want to find out for themselves who their families are," she said, noting that the task may prove impossible.
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Having taken them in when they were babies, the care home is committed to continuing to look after them as they go through high school and into college. But finances are unstable, with the home reliant on donations to feed, clothe and house the more than 70 children living there.
Meanwhile Deya, one of the only people who may be able to answer the question of the children's true identities, remains in London, where his evangelical church raises almost 900,000 pounds ($1.3million) a year in donations.
While his wife was arrested in Nairobi when the scandal broke and has since served two prison sentences related to the miracle babies, Deya, now 64, has remained free despite the UK home secretary twice signing off on his extradition.
In 2007, then-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith greenlighted the extradition request from Kenya, but Deya's lawyers appealed on human rights grounds. Five years later, current Home Secretary Theresa May declared Deya had used up all avenues of appeal. But since then little word has come from UK authorities and Deya has continued to lead his church.
Gilbert Deya arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London in 2007. Photo by Stephen Hird/Reuters
According to the Daily Nation, a Kenyan newspaper, the extradition has been held up by the UK's demand that Deya is incarcerated at one of two prisons where conditions are deemed to be of an acceptable standard — a demand Kenyan authorities are apparently unwilling to meet.
When asked about the current situation, the Home Office said: "We continue to consider representations being made by Mr Deya's legal team. It would be inappropriate to comment further while this process is ongoing."
Kenyan press recently reported that the charges against Deya were dropped in 2007 — but Kenya's Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions last week told VICE News the extradition order was still in place and charges against Deya have always remained pending.
"The charges were never dropped. We are waiting for him to be extradited. We are hoping that the two countries can expedite that," said Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Jacinta Nyamosi.
'Their motive is simply one of the most base of human avarices: financial greed'
In the UK, it is unknown how many other miracle babies were brought over from Kenya, though Mrs E told authorities she knew of 22 other miracle births through Deya's church, the Gilbert Deya Ministries.
At the court hearing in which the decision was taken to put Mrs E's baby into care, Mr Justice Ryder said the child's true identity had been "stolen from him by a cruel deception."
"Their motive is simply one of the most base of human avarices: financial greed," he said.
Labour Party Member of Parliament David Lammy, whose Tottenham constituency is home to Mrs E and her husband, told VICE News the couple appeared "brainwashed" and were in a state of deep anguish when they came to see him.
"They were clearly very vulnerable because they were an infertile couple, they had been given herbal nonsense by this guy which made the mum's stomach appear extended and convinced she was pregnant," he said.
"They went to Kenya and surprise surprise she was presented with a baby and told it was hers. They were convinced. They came to see me so upset that the authorities had taken their baby."
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Lammy fears there are many more undiscovered "miracle babies" in the UK. "God knows how many families were seduced with this nonsense. There are probably children in families who don't realize," he said.
Lammy also believes the children's ethnicity played a part in Deya remaining free today. "I think if the kids were white he would be behind bars," he said. "It's outrageous, it should be a much bigger scandal. It is a very worrying tale of modern human trafficking."
Earlier this month, the Home Office responded to a parliamentary written question submitted by Lammy in January, asking about the progress of the situation. "The Secretary of State is considering further representations from Mr Deya that extradition would breach his Convention rights. She will make a decision as soon as possible," said the reply.
Macharia Gakuru, who was once a business partner of Deya's and later wrote a biography of him, said the pastor is skilled at targeting desperate people and convincing them he is a victim of malicious accusations.
"These people are vulnerable. They believe he will deliver them from their situation," he told VICE News. "But they are victims of Deya. He is making money out of them. They don't have to have money themselves, but he can use their 'miracles' on his radio channel and on TV and other people will be willing to donate."
The Charities Commission has twice investigated Deya Ministries — which accounts show banked 865,686 pounds in donations in 2014 — first in 2000 and again in 2004, but no action has been taken.
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Deya has claimed he faces torture and degrading treatment if he is sent back to Kenya, while saying child trafficking charges he faces are the result of a political vendetta.
When VICE News visited Deya's church in London on Sunday, two Bentleys sat outside the building, though it was not clear if either belonged to Deya. He was absent from the reception area, where members of his congregation were passing through ahead of a four-hour service he would be leading. Deya refused to be interviewed when a member of the church's staff phoned through to him, and nobody present would give their name.
"If he is always busy when you call, perhaps you can think of a reason why?" said the staff member, going on to agree with the suggestion it was because Deya didn't want to speak to the press.
Followers of his who were present expressed their deep frustration at media reports surrounding Deya, with one woman who refused to give her name but identified herself as a pastor at the church saying "Everything they have written is lies."
"Why don't you leave him alone? You journalists come here pretending to be nice and then you go and write bad things about him," she told VICE News. "What gives you the right to come into the house of God and harass him, he is a good man. Only God can judge him and he will be judged by God, just like you will be, just like everyone."
Follow Anna Dubuis on Twitter: @annadubuis
Additional reporting by Charles Parkinson
Follow Charles Parkinson on Twitter: @charlesparkinsn
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