We welcome two new brigadistas, Mayara and Charlotte, who have recently joined the field team in Barrancabermeja. Here they share a few words about their motivations that led them to collaborate with our movement and their expectations for the coming years.
“I am Mayara, Brazilian, I met PBI Colombia in 2017, since then I follow it on social media. But, for personal reasons, I didn’t apply to be a brigadista.
So, after some changes in my life, here I am! This opportunity to work with PBI seemed like what I had been looking for for a long time. The principles applied in this organisation in pursuit of peace and non-violence are in line with my ethical and personal values.
My expectation is that this work will be a continuous exchange of knowledge about human rights, as this organisation is multicultural with collaborators from different countries.
So, I hope that during the 18 months I will be able to contribute to the project as a Latina. I feel honoured to be part of the struggle for human rights in Latin America, especially accompanying the Colombian human rights defenders who teach me every day the true meaning of “the power of resilience”.”
“This is my first time in Colombia and, in fact, also in Latin America, and I am very happy that this first experience in the South American continent is with the PBI Colombia project.
I discovered PBI and its projects in 2015, after which I got closer to former PBI Colombia brigadistas during an orientation meeting with PBI UK in 2016, and a training on holistic protection for human rights defenders in 2019 in Spain and as a volunteer with PBI France during the nine months before I joined the project.
I identify very much with PBI’s mandate to create spaces for peace and the protection of human rights as all my academic training has been around human rights and peace studies; thus PBI’s principle of non-violence is a key concept that I want to put into practice both professionally and personally as the two frameworks feed into each other within the work of a brigadista.
What convinced me to get involved with PBI Colombia is the protective role that foreigners (with non-Colombian citizenship) can play in enabling the local Colombian population to develop their own local ways of life, a role that in an ideal post-colonial and decolonial world should not exist. This is why the principle of non-interference/non-partisanship, by which PBI tries not to impose a point of view, but to protect and expand a space for action that is still restricted in Colombia, seems to me to be extremely important. In addition, the initial and ongoing training within the project in Colombia reassures me that I am not involved in “voluntourism”.
Finally, being able to help and give some protection to the fight against land dispossession and against the model of economic development damaging the environment and local communities are yet more reasons that brought me here today.
I think that peace is a process in constant construction and that moments of peace are always found along the way. So I am very happy and grateful to be able to walk with PBI Colombia alongside human rights defenders to create lasting moments of peace.”