ZAMBIA’S JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM IS UNDER-DEVELOPED AND UNDER-RESOURCED, AND CHILDREN SUFFER AS A RESULT. UNDIKUMBUKIRE PROJECT ZAMBIA IS WORKING TO FILL THIS GAP.
How we began
UP’s work started in 2014, when our founder Sara Larios, a lawyer, and a group of community members in Lusaka began visiting Kamwala Remand Prison and saw first hand the appalling conditions that children were being detained in. These children were either awaiting trial or had been convicted and waiting to be sent to a reformatory school. Lacking basic sanitation facilities or access to health services, hundreds of children were crammed into spaces built for a fraction of the number of people. Spaces were being shared with adult prisoners bringing added challenges to an already dire environment for children.
We brought blankets, toiletries and other items to children in prison to help meet their physical needs. Expecting to simply leave the donations, we instead encountered boys who were desperate to interact, asking not to be forgotten. They would say to us every time we were leaving ‘Undikumbukire’ meaning ‘remember me’ in a local language. It was hard to forget about the plight of these children, and so Undikumbukire Project began.
“Undikumbukire” means “Remember Me” in Chewa.
How we grew
As we continued to spend time in Kamwala Remand Prison, it became clear that visits alone would not address the root problems behind the children’ incarceration. The majority of children in prison cannot afford a lawyer and are often forced to defend themselves. Many are arrested for petty crimes such as theft but receive overly severe charges, whilst others are not guilty of the crimes they have been charged for. First and foremost, they needed someone to defend their rights in court and advocate for the speedy resolution of their cases.
Our founder and lawyer Sara Larios, with support from legal assistants, started representing children in court. The need for intervention was immense and required a multi-pronged approach which included promoting law and policy reform. In 2014, UP Zambia was born to defend the rights of children in prison by providing access to legal aid, providing basic and essential welfare services, and advocating for their rights. We pride ourselves on having a specialised approach to legal aid geared towards children, with a passionate and dedicated team of experienced professionals.
UP Zambia has a highly qualified team of attorneys, psychologists, social workers, legal assistants, and finance staff with years of experience in Legal Representation & Child Rights, Child Protection & Mental Health, Advocacy, Community Sensitization, and Financial Management.
Legal Team Lead
Human Resource Officer