The paralegal who went beyond the call of duty

Standard One students at Igundu village can now attend school right in their village all because a paralegal succeeded in bringing together the community to start building a new school and provide the village’s children with the right to education.






The village of Igundu is located off the beaten track, several kilometres outside the town of Kahama. Here kids walk long distances to attend Mwankima Primary School, the only primary school around, which is itself a shell of its old self.

“It’s been this way for years.  Small children having to walk considerably long distances to attend classes. This has an obviously detrimental effect on their ability to learn despite the fact that as kids they are always full of energy,” says Malugu Beleng’ayi, the headmaster after getting off his motorcycle to greet us.

We are in the company of Lulu Abdallah, a paralegal who can be rightly described as remarkable for the work she put into changing the schooling situation for kids in the village and nearby communities.

“I learned during the course of my regular work providing legal aid and education around here that the children’s right to education was being obstructed by the absence of a school facility and that didn’t sit well with me,” she recalls.

As is the case in many districts, paralegals work closely with local leadership to foster good relations as well as provided the ever-needed assistance in issues that most village and ward level leaders cannot handle effectively, because of their legal nature and implications.




Seeing the pressing need for a sustainable solution to the schooling circumstances, Lulu approached the village chair and discussed with him, the possibility of galvanizing a collective drive to build from scratch a school in the village, and start small with lower classes, while working towards a complete set-up.

At first, the idea seemed far-fetched to the chair, however, Lulu convinced him that if it were sold convincingly to the rest of the village, no one would throw it out.

A frequent visitor to the village, Lulu is well-respected for her commitment to working with the community in other areas other than legal aid and education, but also for frequently deliberating with residents on ways to improve their lives and social relations.

“We were used to sending our kids to Mwankima, because it was our only option, however she challenged us to think and act differently for the sake of our kids, and that inspired a strong drive in us to accomplish what we didn’t think would be a reality,” says Tatu Magobogo, a local resident and parent.

The village leadership assembled the residents and floated the idea. A huge undertaking such as this naturally elicits feelings of doubt and to some that was the fact, however, believers were more in numbers and from that first meeting the ball began to roll.

Each family would contribute TShs.18,000 every month and the local neighbourhood watch team would canvass for the collections. This isn’t a large amount by ordinary consideration, however, Igundu is a community of peasants, who earn their keep through rice farming and livestock rearing, and with the seasons not always reliable, even such a meager amount of money can often become burdensome.

“We started with the foundation for two classrooms, a teachers’ office and washrooms, and slowly built our way right through to the completed structure, you see here,” says Emmanuel Lutego, the village chair pointing the fresh-looking building in front of us.

“In 2018 work began on the second building and we anticipate that even though it’s a long journey, we will have the school standing not too long from today. We received assistance from the government with roofing sheets, and that made it possible for this first building to stand, and accommodate the first batch of students,” he adds.




The school opened in January, 2020 for standard one as the community continues to strive towards its growth, which will eventually accommodate entire streams. Beleng’ayi, while overseeing Mwankima Primary School is also currently the only teacher at the new Igundu Primary School, while efforts continue to formally register the school, which will allow the government to send more teachers, and thus bring to life the village’s dream of having a school right on its doorstep.

“It’s sheer delight for me, and most importantly the bright outlook on the faces of the parents here. As a paralegal based in this district, I understand the legal needs and aspirations of this community well and as a matter of fact, I also know that if the children here can be guaranteed a good education, then that’s a vital aspect for this village’s progress”, insists Lulu.

Her view echoes LSF’s on-going commitment to provide local communities with a lifeline, which translates into ordinary people across the country, who are better equipped to improve their lives socially and economically, so that they are ultimately positioned to overcome poverty.