A day in the life of a paralegal working on the Kasai response

Kangudia Dilenge, 24 one of the Paralegals from Miabi Territory, Kasai Oriental
Photo: ActionAid
Zimbabwe team
Communications Focal Person

I am the Communications Focal Person for ActionAid Zimbabwe.

A paralegal is not necessarily a lawyer but it can be any person who helps communities on legal implications of whatever situations they may be experiencing. Kangudia, Dilenge (24) from Nyikanyiki Village, Miabi Territory in Kasai Oriental is a dress maker by profession who is a human rights activist. She is one of 40 paralegals trained by ActionAid to support the communities affected by the Kasai conflict.  

ActionAid in collaboration with the Congolese National Police (PNC) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) trained 40 paralegals in Kasai Oriental and Kasai Central Provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

I help village men and women demand justice when they face any violation of human rights, for example sexual gender based violence (SGBV). I provide the information on what the law says about the situation they are facing, said Kangudia.

Even when there is no war in Kasai now, women are still being sexually assaulted. During war they were raped by armed men. Now they are raped by unknown men in the streets. I assist them where to report at the police station. I advise them to go to the police section which handles sexual gender based violence. I tell them not to report to any police person, so that their issues remain confidential, Kangudia said.

She said other issues affecting women were domestic gender based violence, where men assault their wives. She advises them the right channels to take at the police station. 

Kangudia also helps communities to hold other stakeholders, like the police, to account: “Protection volunteers also trained by ActionAid sometimes require my input when the cases involved need reporting to the police or any basic legal information they may need.  I also work closely with protection monitors who I report to monthly. However, if there are urgent issues I do not need to wait for the month,” she said. 

“I also help those that are not able to seek justice, for example there is a case of a child beating in my community. I told the mother what the law says about caning children and what can happen to the perpetrator. The mother who had frustrations caused by the family displacement because of war in this community, used to beat her child to extremes. She has since stopped doing so after I sensitized her.”

In another case, Kangudia mediated between two neighbours who were engaged in a land dispute. She advised them that that there was no need to fight physically but they should seek the audience of local authorities. She advised one of the two to report to the police when the other was becoming violent. The matter has since been resolved with the help of Kangudia who educated them on peaceful resolution of conflicts, as part of the training she received from ActionAid.

Kangudia said she sometimes faces obstacles when she wants to send urgent information to ActionAid because she does not have a mobile phone.  Due to limited resources, Kangudia is one of the community volunteers who did not receive a phone. “One of my challenges I face in the community is lack of recognition by the police. When I assist people, they always challenge how I am mandated to assist the community members affected by conflict,” said Kungudia.

ActionAid continues to provide capacity building to stakeholders such as the police and government on the importance of them being held accountable by communities affected by the conflict.  Since October 2017, ActionAid with funding from the UNHCR has supported over 26,450 people in the two provinces of the Grand Kasai Region, namely Kasai Oriental and Kasai Central.  Protection paralegals like Kangudia, protection volunteers and protection monitors have received training from ActionAid so that they cascade the capacity building to the communities displaced by the conflict in the Kasai region.