Journey into the unknown

I think back to the first time that I set foot on Colombian soil, my mind was full of illusions but at the same time with anxiety due to the unfamiliar situations that I might find myself in. I was asking myself “How will it work out for me?” “How will I feel living in Colombia?” “Will I be capable of managing so much new information, so many names, and places?” “Will I be ready to confront so many stories of hardship and difficult situations?” I still have a lot to learn, but I can definitely say that so far my experience in PBI has taught me so much, and has allowed me to visit and get to know amazing places with interesting histories as well as spectacular flora and fauna. And of course I have had the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people. Courageous people who, as the late Jaime Pardo Leal [1] put it, are “Justifying their time on Earth”.

These people, with their capacity for resilience and peaceful resistance against the many injustices perpetrated against them in spite of the many obstacles they find in their way, have generated within me unfathomable admiration. Spending time with peasant-farmers, lawyers, miners, among others– all human rights defenders – listening to their life stories and  witnessing their dignified struggle for peace, justice, truth, full reparation of the wrongs they have suffered, can leave no one indifferent.

I have had the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people.
I have had the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people.

When the topic of Colombia is mentioned, the dominant discourse tends to provide information that is out of context, full of stereotypes far from a closer reality. As the incredible Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie puts it, “the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete”. So for me, the work that PBI carries out in Colombia has allowed me to live and understand different realities, contrasts and inequalities, but also a strong feeling of solidarity, sensitivity, happiness, initiatives and a consciousness for a “Good Living” (Buen Vivir) and the need for social change.

[1] Jaime Pardo Leal was a lawyer and politician who was assassinated during his presidential campaign in 1987. His assassination formed part of the political genocide of members of the Patriotic Union party (UP) of which Jaime was a member.

Delphine Taylor is from a Franco-British family. Born in the United States, Delphine grew up in Belgium where she developed a strong interest for travelling, cultural diversity and human rights. This passion to explore the world seems to be in the family genes as currently three of her siblings are living in Africa, while a fourth lives in Luxembourg. Her experiences abroad and her social commitment encouraged her to choose the educational route of sociology and anthropology, in particular questions about “otherness” in Latin America. She decided to form part of the PBI team to be able to live a new experience and to get to know different realities, human rights defenders and their respective struggles.

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