(Today’s update is from one of our fantastic interns, Allen, who is there for the summer working with our legal team. For the past couple of weeks they have been providing a workshop to the youth who will be participating in our next J-FASTER session.)
Yesterday marked the end of the first week of our two-week Legal Literacy program for the roughly 30 children in the Naguru remand home participating in the July J-Faster session. J-Faster is a condensed plea bargaining program that attempts to facilitate justice in a quicker and more effective manner. The goal of our literacy program is to educate the children and put their nerves at ease as they enter this stressful time. During the two weeks we will educate the children through games, skits and intellectually stimulating activities on their rights and duties as a Ugandan citizen, as well as teach them the Ugandan Judicial system and how plea-bargaining can be beneficial.
Abby, Aaron and I have split the children into two groups of about 15 each so as to give them more opportunity to voice their questions or concerns about their case. The smaller numbers gives us the opportunity to connect with the children on a personal level so they feel comfortable talking to us about anything that is concerning them.
Thus far we have taught the children their 6 constitutional rights. After teaching the rights we had each children stand up and explain which right they felt was most important. In particular, the answer that stood out the most to me was a young man by the name of Douglas. In broken English, Douglas explained that he felt special protection for orphans was the most important right for children.
Douglas has parents, but he continued on to elaborate that he felt every child has the ability to do great thing with their lives if they are just given the opportunity. For most children, their parents help give them an opportunity for the future. However Douglas understood that orphans do not have that support and deserve the same opportunities as every other child.
We also covered the duties Ugandan Citizens are expected to fulfill. The children understand how important it is to embody these ideals to build a stronger Uganda.
In the picture below, Abby is showing that just as a weak link in a chain can ruin the integrity of a chain, a weak citizen who is corrupt and has evil intentions can ruin the integrity of Uganda and weaken the country.
The children made booklets with pictures of their rights so they can show their defense attorney that they have been educated on their situation. Next week we are looking forward to taking on the challenge of teaching the Ugandan Judicial system in an exciting and understandable format. During this entire process we constantly remind the children that they are loved by us and that we promise to make sure their cases are heard fairly and justly.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause”-Isaiah 1:17