This December seven new brigadistas have arrived to accompany human rights organisations. We have been looking forward to their arrival, in these contradictory times of peace and continued killings of defenders. The following are introductions to just some of these new PBI international observers:
Ana Ochoa: Learning from non-violent resistance
My name is Ana Ochoa, I am Catalan and I studied Journalism at university. I have always loved travelling and I came to Colombia for the first time in 2011. I fell in love with the country and its people, and I decided that one day I would come back to stay. Six years later I am now working for PBI, so that I can learn from the non-violent struggle of the human rights defenders and their organisations accompanied by PBI. For me they are examples of life and dignity that will help me to grow as a person. PBI is a school which goes far beyond the professional sphere, as it allows you to experience the human dimensions of the conflict and the journey towards peace.
Coraline Ricard: My dear Colombia
“They didn’t know it was impossible, so they did it” – Mark Twain
That is how a friend of mine talked about her country, and it was these words that brought me to Colombia and have never left me. I have had the opportunity to get to know many people and communities from Guaviare to La Guajira, and to listen to their stories of struggle. Since then I have always wanted to return here to support these processes and to add my small piece of stone to the country where peace is being built. It is a privilege to be able to accompany human rights defenders, so that they can continue with their vital work in their country.
Gala Trives: Acting locally, thinking globally
I admire people all across the globe who are organising every day to defend their rights from their own contexts and realities. With PBI I have the possibility of acting locally while thinking globally, by contributing so that those who work in Colombia, to build something that in the long term affects us all, can continue with their work. During my time here I hope to share, get stuck in and learn a lot by accompanying these processes.
Manon Fenoy: Excited to have the opportunity to get to know such brave people
Hello! My name is Manon and I come from France. I am really motivated and full of hope to begin work with PBI Colombia, to be part of a project like this one, with principles and a way of working that I totally identify with. Above all, I am also excited to have this opportunity to get to know strong, brave people, such as those accompanied by PBI. Understanding their struggle and resistance, sharing their life experiences with them, and being by their side to support them in the transformation to a fairer and more equal society. I firmly believe that collectively, and through the creation of solidarity networks, we can overcome borders and build “this other possible world” in which there is a place for everyone. When thinking about how to bring my grain of sand to this collective effort, I remembered the words of Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world”, and so here I am, starting out on this journey for the struggle for life and human rights.
Yvonne Furrer: Their commitment to peace and social justice deserves all the support they need
Colombia is a beautiful and complex country that really attracts me, especially because of the kindness and warmth I found when people here welcomed me, with open arms, back in 2007. Since then, a part of my heart has remained here in this country. Ten years later I have come back to give back the kindness that was shown to me. I was encouraged to become part of the PBI Colombia team after studying human rights in Switzerland and meeting human rights defenders at risk because of their work. Colombian defenders are inspiring people and their commitment to peace and social justice means that they deserve all the support they need. That is why I greatly value PBI’s role to contribute to opening up spaces using peaceful means, with the aim of improving quality of life and the social situation in Colombia. I am proud to give my energy to this project.