A neighbour’s tip saves a child’s little hands

Paralegal Filbert Milambo is seen visiting the young girl whose hands were burned by her father in an act of child abuse in the village of Kirando in Rukwa.






On the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the district of Nkasi, Rukwa is the nondescript village of Kirando, where most people earn a living through fishing, peasantry and hawking at the local market. Life is visibly tough here in this semi-arid landscape.

Filbert Milambo, a primary school and teacher and paralegal, met us in the centre of the village and took us to the home of Elicatus Micheto, the neighbourhood chair, whom he first informed of a case in which a father burned his young daughter’s hands to the extent that she couldn’t eat on her own.




This, apparently, was punishment for her tendency of stealing around the house. Milambo received news of the brutality from one of the family’s neighbours and when he went to see the child he knew he had to act quickly and he immediately reported the incident to the police. Later that evening he returned to the child’s home with Micheto.

“I remember it was early June last year (2019) when Milambo came up to me and narrated the incident and asked me to accompany him to the child’s home and facilitate the man’s apprehension. The child’s hands were in a terrible condition and after explaining the purpose of our visit and after a long argument the man in question eventually agreed to be taken to the police station that very evening”, Micheto told us.

Milambo told us that on the way to the police station, he took the opportunity to speak to the father about the incident, and the father explained to him that, the girl regularly stole from the house, and on the day that he decided to burn her hands, she had stolen TZS 10,000.  And that was the tipping point.

At the police station the girl was examined and a report was written to recommend her for treatment which she received and subsequent visits to the doctor ensued until she healed completely and began regaining use of her hands.

The perpetrator was afterwards called in to the police station where he was warned and educated on abuse of children, women and any other persons and the legal consequences of such conduct.

“On the following day when he was required to return to the station to be formally processed, we found out that he had fallen ill, and it was agreed that, he should seek treatment first, and upon reaching full recovery the case would resume at the station. Unfortunately, however, after several days he died, and thus he was never tried”, Milambo informed us.

The police officer who handled the case and preferred anonymity told us that officers work closely with social services, paralegals and other local authorities to address numerous issues but the biggest challenge is that a large section of residents have no understanding of the law.

“We are running an awareness program that involves schools around here where we collectively provide tutelage on good citizenship as well as legal education; I’m confident that in this way we will reach our goal of building a more law-abiding community”, the officer informed us.




Today the young girl has fully recovered and continues to attend school at Mtakuja Primary School in the village.

“The community here must never sit silently at such abuses or any other for that matter but should instead report them because paralegals, social work services, police and local authorities all work together for the common good of the entire community. Let’s share information and never turn a blind eye because help in one way or another, and legal aid services is available at all times,” concluded Milambo.

Even though the child’s father never eventually faced justice for his cruelty, the collaborative efforts of the paralegal, police and local leadership saved her from potential continued abuse which could have permanently maimed her.

The role of the neighbour in reporting the incident to the paralegal shed the first spotlight on the terrible situation and it was the outcome of the awareness legal education and the availability of legal aid services at the grassroots at the community level.

The reach of LSF’s Access to Justice Program in Kirando eventually pulled a young victim out of the clutches of abuse in the hands of her own father and restored her right to education which had almost been severely interrupted.

Hoping that she will stay in school, her story will likely inspire others in her community to seek to learn about the rights of children, the responsibilities of parents and how collective efforts can help change the outcome of an unfortunate situation.