Undikumbukire Project, Lusaka, Zambia

The vast majority of juveniles cannot afford a lawyer, and so are left to defend themselves alone in court. This can result in overly severe charges, one-sided trials, and weak convictions. Established by lawyer Sara Larios in 2014, it began with a visit to a prison with the law association.

Provisions for the young boys were scarce so Sara began by arranging donations of blankets and other goods, this progressed to chatting to the boys and going to visit them regularly at weekends. Provisions in Zambian prisons are severely lacking due to limited resources, there is no separation with adult prisoners and cells are often overcrowded, so much so that they cannot always lie down to sleep. They are given only basic food provisions, with not even enough for basic hygiene. It was quickly realised that the boys gained a lot from these visits and donations, never usually receiving any visitors. Undikumbukire means ‘remember me’, which was said by a prisoner on one visit, highlighting their desperate need for support and attention.

The organisation has grown rapidly and they now run a number of different projects:

Social Support

  • Organise volunteer led educational and sporting activities throughout the week. The provide guest speakers and are planning to install a computer lab next year.
  • Provide encouragement, support, and mentorship to juveniles in Zambian prisons through regular visits and in-kind donations to meet critical physical needs.
  • Develop rehabilitation options from counselling to training to educational sponsorship.

Legal Assistance

  • UP Zambia facilitates legal representation for juveniles at all stages of the criminal justice process by matching them with pro bono lawyers.
  • Monitors cases and provides basic legal guidance to juveniles; secures court dates, represents juveniles in criminal proceedings, and builds relationships with key stakeholders in the legal process.

Advocacy and System Reform

  • UP research and advocate for reforms to laws and policies that impact juveniles in conflict with the law.
  • In the future, UP Zambia will seek to advocate for better juvenile justice procedures, design and implement evidence-based reforms, and develop aftercare services.

For more information, please visit their website.