“Undikumbukire.” I frequently remind my students that one word can make a difference. For Sara Larios, an American lawyer practicing commercial law in Zambia, it was hearing that one word — “Undikumbukire” – that made all the difference. It made a difference in the direction of Sara’s life and legal career. It made a difference in the quality of justice obtained in Zambian criminal courts. And, most importantly, it has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of Zambian children and their families.
“Undikumbikure” means “Remember me.” Sara intended only to deliver blankets to children detained in an adult prison in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city, but when she left they pleaded with her not to forget about them. “Remember me.” “Undikumbukire.” And Sara remembered. But how can a lawyer “remember” kids detained in an adult prison, sometimes for years before their cases are completed, often without access to a lawyer at any stage of the case, without feeling the call to represent them? Sara is unique – the only American lawyer licensed to practice law in Zambian courts – but she had no background in criminal law or juvenile law.
That lack of criminal justice experience, and the resulting lack of confidence that she could effectively represent them, proved to be no match for that one word: “Undikumbukire.” With a promise of help from two of her friends and colleagues, Sara co-founded Undikumbukire Project Zambia in 2015. Also known as UPZambia, the project partners with Zambian courts, prisons, and defender services, and now exercises the primary responsibility for defending hundreds of juveniles who are tried for crimes in Zambian courts.
Beginning this week, Sara and UPZambia will be supported in their mission to bring timely justice to Zambian children by Baylor Law students. Eight students will be performing 30-day externships with UPZambia over the course of this summer. Four students have already arrived and are being trained this week. They are Robyn Leatherwood, Claire Mosley, Ashley Richardson, and Sarah Beth Toben. The four who will be traveling with me to Zambia in late June are Daniel Basham, Ashley Shultz, Fallon Seitz, and Kaitlyn Yanes. I expect these eight students to have a life-changing adventure, one that will be of direct benefit to Zambian children and the Zambian justice system.
Baylor Law. Zambian Justice. Undikumbukire Project Zambia.