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Volunteer in the Field

PBI volunteers
PBI volunteers

"It is a sad fact of life here that the willingness to attack a Colombian human rights defenders or the civilian population only diminishes when there is international support for their work."  -   Volunteer Kelli Corrigan, Colombia

The volunteers of Peace Brigades International (PBI) come from many different countries and backgrounds.

What these volunteers share is a strong commitment to nonviolence and a belief in the contribution that ordinary people can make to creating a more peaceful and just world.

Nationalities

Recent PBI volunteers have come from over 25 countries including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA.

What does a PBI team do?

When there is a conflict within a state or between communities or nations, certain actions are possible and appropriate for outsiders - others are not. A PBI team seeks to encourage, by means of an international, nonviolent, non partisan presence, a peaceful resolution of conflicts in the local area. To do this, PBI teams:

  • Offer support and protective accompaniment to human rights defenders, groups or individuals threatened with violence;
  • Develop a thorough analysis of the political situation by listening to the widest possible range of viewpoints and experiences while respecting needs for confidentiality;
  • Report to the outside world a non-partisan analysis of the situation as seen on the ground in the area;
  • Encourage actions to reduce the level of violence;
  • Meet regularly with local authorities and Embassies to raise concerns regarding human rights abuses as they affect the organisations we accompany.

PBI is not a development organisation. We believe that communities need space to carry out their own development in ways that create self reliance rather than dependency. We refer requests for development projects to other organisations set up for such work.

What does PBI offer volunteers?

  • A profound experience of working with an international peace and human rights organisation committed to transforming ideals into practical action
  • Specialist training based on over 25 years experience working in the field
  • The experience of living and working in a close-knit team of volunteers from many different countries and backgrounds
  • A unique first-hand insight into the intense pressures faced by human rights defenders and their resilience and courage

What do we look for in volunteers?

The following qualities, experience and skills are examples of the criteria used for screening potential volunteers. Some are essential and others desirable - check with the project you are applying to for their list of criteria:

  • Nonviolence - a clear understanding of and commitment to nonviolence. Experience working with nonviolence in your own community is a prerequisite for applying nonviolence to other parts of the world.
  • Foreign language skills - fluent Spanish is essential for working in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia. The Kenya project's main language is English.
  • Discretion and diplomacy
  • Maturity – the recommended minimum age for volunteers is 25
  • Resilience - the ability to work effectively under pressure and stress.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the history, politics and culture of the country where you are working .
  • Cross-cultural skills and sensitivity - the ability to work with people of different cultures, demonstrated through previous intercultural experience.
  • Flexibility - the ability to change tactics, work and opinions.
  • Experience of working in groups - familiarity with consensus decision-making and the ability to work easily and cooperatively as part of a team.
  • Previous experience of work with NGOs in the fields of peace, human rights or social justice.
  • Practical skills - computers, bookkeeping, writing, library skills, group skills, familiarity with rural communities, photography, cooking, musical abilities, and many others have been useful on PBI teams.

Living conditions

PBI volunteers share a house which serves as living quarters as well as an office. Usually it is a very international house.

Find out more

If you are an Australian Citizen or someone living in Australia, please email PBI Australia at info(at)remove-this.pbi-australia.org.

Someone will then contact you to discuss further your interest.

Connect with PBI Australia

Testimony

"PBI is one of the most useful organisations [...] to concretely protect defenders"

Michel Forst - UN Special Rapporteur on HRDs


International Office, Development House, 56-64 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4LT, U.K. Tel: +44 20 7065 0775
To find your nearest PBI office visit the international contact page