Renowned for its goat market, the formerly crime-prone Kiamaiko area in Huruma, Nairobi county celebrated an exceptional moment as thirty community justice workers graduated from the Sheria Mashinani paralegal training project.
The Access to Justice Program facilitated project supported by the Ford Foundation, empowered and equipped community health workers, girls’ rights advocates, and community leaders with legal knowledge and skills to address legal issues faced daily in their underserved community.
With rising cases of gender-based violence, regular conflicts between residents and law enforcement officers, and ignorance of the law being prevalent in the area, the training and subsequent graduation of the paralegals are expected to serve as a catalyst for positive change in the community.
“We could only train thirty paralegals due to budgetary constraints, but we hope that they will pass the knowledge to others to create a legally empowered community, ” Carol Njambi, the lead consultant noted. Based on the impact of the cohort’s work, Crime Si Poa hopes to get more funding so as to scale the training.
One of the beneficiaries, Beatrice Ouma, thanked Crime Si Poa for the program and highlighted how it impacted her knowledge of the law and social issues affecting the community, especially gender-based violence.” As a youth advocate, it will help me address the issues affecting us directly or indirectly in the community,” said Ouma.
Georgina Kawira, the Program Manager at Shine a Light organization, expressed her gratitude to the community health volunteers who formed the bulk of the trainees. “We found that most of them don’t have legal knowledge, so we partnered with CSP to educate them on the law, and here they are, ready to implement what they have been taught.”
Regina Nyambura, a community health volunteer from the area, noted that many court cases had been dismissed due to non-attendance of witnesses, hence the community needs to be sensitized on the importance of giving evidence in court. “We will inform them how evidence enhances justice,” she said.
The training syllabus covered topical issues, amongst them; court processes, structure and etiquette, community mobilization, leadership, family law and succession law, and gender-based violence. They were further taken through community access to justice and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Crime Si Poa plans to create community legal awareness platforms and provide legal services in the area. “Overall, the graduation of the thirty paralegals in Huruma Kiamaiko marks a significant milestone in providing legal knowledge in the community and serves as a model for other communities facing similar issues,” said Sylvia Morwabe, Programs Director at Crime Si Poa.
Sheria Mashinani ( grassroots law) Project has so far trained three hundred and thirty six community and prison based justice workers in the last two years. It is trite that legally empowered communities enhance the rule of law and, in turn, contribute to the reduction and ultimate eradication of crime within the society. To learn more about, and support Sheria Mashinani, kindly visit https://sheria.crimesipoa.org.