Field volunteers with Peace Brigades International come from many different countries and backgrounds. What they share is a strong commitment to nonviolence and a belief in the power of ordinary people to create a more peaceful and just world.
If you are interested in volunteering overseas with PBI, the stories from former field volunteers from the UK give you a chance to find out about volunteering from the people who've been in the same position as you.
Read their personal insights into what its like to train with PBI, to work alongside human rights defenders, and to live and work with others from different countries and backgrounds.
PBI field volunteers - in their own words
"As a woman, coming to the State that inspired the term ‘femicide’ was not a decision I took lightly but I trusted that our beige waistcoat would exempt me from becoming a victim to such a crime. I joined an all-female team, which was an empowering experience in itself, and was surrounded by incredible female human rights defenders. For me, my time with PBI was about utilising my privilege as a foreigner to facilitate human rights defenders in Chihuahua and Coahuila to continue their work with less risk."
"It's easy to assume when you see things deteriorating that the defense of human rights is having no impact. But what we don't see is what the country would look like if human rights defenders weren't able to do that work."
"One of the benefits of the way PBI selects volunteers is that I have met lots of new people along the way from all over the world who share similar values and who I am still in touch with now. It also gives you the opportunity to consider whether or not both living and working with a small team of people is something that feels right for you."
‘Their [HRDs] bravery and determination were inspirations throughout my year but it was their humanity – the stories, jokes and peculiarities of each defender I got to know – that will remain with me most and convinced me that perhaps the most important aspect of PBI's presence is simply solidarity.’
'I feel hugely privileged to have had the opportunity to work alongside the Colombian human rights defenders who are at the forefront of demanding change in their country. Their voices are important reminders of the bravery needed to confront injustice and to fight for improvements.'
"I always had a deep interest in citizen empowerment and democracy [...]. Having heard about PBI’s work in Latin America I jumped at the opportunity to apply when I saw a position available in Kenya."
'Despite the country’s grave human rights situation during 2014, spending a year with PBI Guatemala allowed me to get to know some incredible human rights defenders, hear their stories and observe them carry out their incredibly valuable work. The contact with the human rights defenders is a great privilege and it was inspirational to meet these normal yet extraordinary people who continue to carry out their work despite the violence they face.'
"As a field volunteer in Kenya, I have been privileged to stand side by side with Kenyan human rights defenders who work relentlessly in their struggle for justice – despite death threats, surveillance, attacks, and even, in extreme cases, the assassination of their colleagues."
"It is moments like this, and the direct contact with the people that working in the field gives you, that makes the hard work of the ‘brigadista’, the hours on the road, the longer hours in the office, all worthwhile... I learned so much during my year as a volunteer in Uraba, about Colombia, its people and myself. That’s why I’m going back for a second year."
"This, and other experiences with PBI, showed me some incredible things. By building solidarity with the peace community, with PBI and our international support network, two rural families of limited means had managed to walk, completely unarmed into paramilitary-controlled territory and reclaim their belongings from a squadron of heavily armed soldiers. I returned home with lots to think about. If they can achieve this in a war zone, what can we achieve in our communities?"
"The CCALCP lawyers are legal advisors to the Bari, an indigenous population engaged in dialogue with the government over petitions to exploit oil and coal within its territory. It is fascinating to spend time getting to know the Bari and the unique way in which they are struggling to preserve and strengthen their culture."
"Achievements like the Radilla judgement and the release of Raul Hernandez help to remind me that, despite the obstacles, justice is a right that must never be relinquished. If there is one thing that PBI has taught me since I left the Pitjantjatjara Lands in the Australian desert it is that while the struggle for justice is the responsibility of each and every one of us, it is most effective when shared by many. "