Student Perspective

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words – Ashley Shultz

Under Chapter 87, The Penal Code Act of The Laws of Zambia, it is a crime to take photos or videos of government buildings. That means that myself and the other Baylor law interns cannot take photographs of any court, correctional or remand facility.

One of us has tried. When caught taking a photo of the exterior of the Subordinate Court, the intern received a stern talking to. He then made the intern delete the photo of the exterior of the court in front of him.

Photos connect us. Photos can make someone feel what someone else feels in a distant location. A photo of a school shooting in a town we’ve never heard of thousands of miles away from the TV on which we watch the news story unfold can make us weep. Such a photo can evoke enough emotion to make us do something about it, whether it be talking about it with others, attending a vigil, or calling our Congressman or woman to urge them to pass stricter gun laws. This is why a picture is worth 1,000 words, right?

So I want to show you a photo of the outdoor space the 40 juveniles share at Kamwala Remand. Upon looking at the photo you might think to yourself that it’s not bigger than the size of your living and kitchen areas combined.

I want to show you a photo of the holding cells behind the Subordinate Court. I would point to the puddles on the floor and say, “That’s urine. The toilets have been broken for who knows how long.”

I want to show you a photo of where the juveniles sleep at Lusaka Central Correctional Facility. I would tell you that because Lusaka Central is three times over its capacity and as you can see the “room” is small, the juveniles sleep sitting upright, back to back.

But I also want to show you photos of the light Undikumbukire Project Zambia shines in these dark places upon these bright faces.

I want to show you a photo of Zebron on the day we gave him a new pair of bright red TOMS. The first and only thing you’d see is a smile from ear to ear. You’d soon realize that you too are smiling because his smile is that contagious.

I want to show you a photo of the coolest makeshift movie theater you ever did see. With donated mattresses for the juveniles blocking the openings in the walls of the “classroom” at Lusaka Central and popcorn in red and white striped popcorn containers, Black Panther played on the wall through a projector. The Zambian legal interns’ creativity made the first viewing of Black Panther, and likely the first movie for those boys unforgettable.

I want to show you a photo of the juveniles playing chess in a chess tournament we organized at Kabwe Correctional Facility upon some makeshift boards we painted for hours the night before. I would point to the boy in the green shirt and tell you he won the tournament, and that it was a huge feat considering all of the boys there play chess for an hour every night.

I want these photos to show you so that you’ll feel what we feel here: sadness and hope for these boys and girls. Moreover, I want these photos to create within you feelings strong enough to lead you to advocate for them alongside us. But for now, words will have to do.

Project Overview

Undikumbukire – An Introduction From Brian Serr

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.