Lizzie is currently an English instructor at City College in San Francisco, CA. Lizzie volunteered with Peace Brigades International (PBI) in Colombia from 1999 to 2001. Lizzie learned about PBI in a class about nonviolence at the University of California, Berkeley, when human rights researcher and activist, John Lindsay Poland, came in to speak about the work that he had done with PBI in Central America. Lizzie was inspired by PBI’s model of social change and decided to intern at the PBI-USA office which at the time was also located in Berkeley. She was hired and worked for three years at the office. Lizzie became more interested in the PBI Colombia project and she applied to be a part of the field volunteer team.
Lizzie started her brigadista journey in Bogotá, Colombia in 1999. She shared a house with 15 other PBI volunteers. Lizzie accompanied different human rights organizations, including the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR), human rights lawyers, organizations of disappeared people and other Colombian human rights organizations and defenders. Lizzie also spent some time in Urabá, a sub-region of north-western Colombia bordering Panama with a long history of violence and armed groups in conflict. One of the communities that she accompanied there was the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, a small community that declared itself neutral in the face of the armed conflict and rejected the presence of all armed groups in its territory. Some of these communities were only accessible via boat. Lizzie got to socialize, learn more and get to know the situation of the people in the communities and report back her findings.
Even though Lizzie’s brigadista experience in Colombia was 20 years ago, she still considers the experience a profound and life-changing event.
“In my life, there is still the before and the after going to Colombia with PBI. It changed my life and changed the trajectory of my life. It changed the way I understand the world and changed the way I understand oppression. It helped me understand the terror of imperialistic policies and the impact that they have in different countries.”
“It was incredible to be around the human rights defenders. They are inspiring and such incredible, strong, smart, and amazing people. Everything about the experience was great, I loved the culture, and loved being there. I had a fun time, sometimes it was incredibly sad, but it was also a very emotional and powerful time too.”
Lizzie believes that the experience gave her a real lifelong commitment to working on social justice. Lizzie notes that after being in Colombia, nothing could be as stressful as the work that she saw the human rights defenders do. They served as inspiration in the fight for social change. Lizzie felt compelled to work for social change and find out ways in which she could contribute to social justice.
Do you want to get involved with PBI?
Become a volunteer
There are several ways to get involved with PBI. If you are interested in becoming a field brigadista, like Steve, and embark on a life-changing experience accompanying human rights defenders, please click here to find out if this opportunity is for you. Here you can find more information about the requirements and application process. The current field project that is accepting applications is PBI-Guatemala. The deadline to submit your application is August 1st, 2021. You can also watch our February 28th PBI Volunteer Orientation Webinar to learn more about the experience.
All of the accompaniment that PBI provides as well as our volunteer outreach is made possible only because of generous individuals like you. For 40 years, PBI has been providing life-saving security monitoring and protection that allows defenders to carry on with their work.
2021 is a special year for Peace Brigades International, it is our 40th year anniversary!
Become a human rights champion by making a donation to our 40th-year anniversary campaign and stand in solidarity with threatened human rights defenders.
Make a Difference, help protect human rights defenders!
2021 is Peace Brigades International's 40th Year Anniversary!
Whether human rights defenders fight for social equality, justice, or environmental and indigenous rights, we must protect their vision of the future. For 40 years, PBI has provided protection so defenders can continue their work. With your support, we can ensure that PBI-USA can continue to make space for peace.
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