Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) - Colombia Peace Presence
Volunteer - Colombia
Location: San José de Apartadó or Bogotá, Colombia
Volunteer in Colombia
Colombia Peace Presence Volunteer Job Description
Teams in San José de Apartadó and Bogotá, Colombia
San José de Apartadó, located in Colombia's northern region of Urabá, is one
of many communities in Colombia that have taken an extraordinary and
nonviolent stand against war, by refusing to support any armed actor
involved in Colombia's decades-long conflict. The community has suffered
terribly from political violence, mostly by paramilitary groups supported by
the Colombian Army, and remains a principle obstacle to the paramilitary's
expansion of its violent project in the Urabá and Chocó regions. In March
2001, the Peace Community, whose central settlement of San José was
accompanied by volunteers of Peace Brigades International, requested that
the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) work to establish a long-term
accompaniment presence in the nearby settlement of La Unión. La Unión is the
agricultural center of the Peace Community, and has been victim to repeated
The FOR initiated its presence in La Unión in February 2002, with two
volunteers and added a team in Bogota in January 2005. FOR is seeking eager,
committed, and skilled volunteers prepared to continue the accompaniment of
this living example of nonviolent resistance and support the many other
community based grassroots peace initiatives in Colombia. Applications are
being accepted for the next openings on the team in Fall 2008. We plan to
conduct a volunteer training in Nyack, New York (United States) August
29-September 3, 2008. The deadline for applications is July 1.
FOR's Statement of Purpose
The Fellowship of Reconciliation is composed of women and men who recognize
the essential unity of all creation and have joined together to explore the
power of love and truth for resolving human conflict. While it has always
been vigorous in its opposition to war, the Fellowship has insisted equally
that this effort must be based on a commitment to the achieving of a just
and peaceful world community, with full dignity and freedom for every human
In working out these objectives the FOR seeks the company of people of faith
who will respond to conflict nonviolently, seeking reconciliation through
compassionate action. The Fellowship encourages the integration of faith
into the lives of individual members. At the same time it is a special role
of the Fellowship to extend the boundaries of community and affirm its
diversity of religious traditions as it seeks the resolution of conflict by
the united efforts of people of many faiths.
In the development of its program the FOR depends upon persons who seek to
apply these principles to every area of life. FOR members:
Identify with those of every nation, race, gender, sexual orientation and
religion who are the victims of injustice and exploitation, and seek to
develop resources of active nonviolence to transform such circumstances;
Refuse to participate in any war or to sanction military preparations;
Work to abolish war and promote good will among races, nations and classes;
Strive to build a social order that will utilize the resources of human
ingenuity and wisdom for the benefit of all, an order in which no individual
or group will be exploited or oppressed for the profit or pleasure of
Advocate fair and compassionate methods of dealing with offenders against
Serve as advocates for victims of crime and their families who suffer loss
and emotional anguish, recognizing that restitution and reconciliation can
help to heal both victims and offenders;
Endeavor to show respect for personality and reverence for all creation;
Seek to avoid bitterness and contention in dealing with controversy, and to
maintain the spirit of self-giving love while engaged in the effort to
achieve these purposes.
The purposes of the volunteer presence in Colombia are:
Accompaniment of San José de Apartadó to assist in protecting the lives of
the community, and by doing so, help to maintain open the space for human
rights and for neutrality of the civilian population in the Colombian
Learn and report about other ongoing efforts by the Colombian civil society
to build peace, including other Peace Communities, national and regional
Peace Networks or Organizations and other grassroots forms of resisting war.
To these ends, the volunteers seek, as far as possible within their
Offer nonviolent support and protective accompaniment to members and leaders
of the San José community (especially in the settlement of La Unión), and to
the Colombian organizations that accompany them, as they are threatened with
violence from various sides;
Identify what is happening in the country through direct observation and by
listening to a wide range of viewpoints and experiences, respecting the need
expressed by involved parties for confidentiality;
Learn about and visit Peace Communities, Networks, Organizations and
grassroots sectors involved in finding non-violent solutions to the war in
Colombia, reporting to the US public about these efforts within the needs
Provide the outside world with a non-partisan analysis and reports of the
situation as viewed from within the country or communities;
Provide accurate and timely information to the Fellowship of Reconciliation
in cases of attack or threat against the accompanied community, to assist in
directing international attention toward the need for human rights
A clear understanding of and commitment to nonviolence, and to the value of
bearing witness through an accompaniment project.
Proficiency in both Spanish and English.
A strong commitment to teamwork, both in terms of working with one or more
other FOR volunteers in the field, and in relation to the TFLAC staff and
We seek volunteers who will commit to serve for at least one year.
Maturity. We do not accept applicants younger than 23 years of age. The
maturity of all prospective volunteers, regardless of age, will be
Because of the political context of this work and its aims, U.S. citizens
are strongly preferred.
Resilience and the ability to work effectively under intense pressure and
stress. It is recommended that volunteers cultivate habits of self-care to
manage stress over extended periods of time.
Sensitivity to and the ability to work with people of different cultures demonstrated through previous experience with people of another culture.
Experience in the field is an asset, but is not required. Familiarity with rural communities is also helpful.
Familiarity with consensus decision-making.
A willingness to live simply.
Ability to represent the project in a professional and appropriate manner, in a wide variety of settings.
Ability to track and analyze information that is pertinent to the safety of volunteers, the need for external support, and/or the opportunities for enhancing the work.
Ability to work with a computer, for word processing, e-mail, and basic maintenance of the computer itself.
Reasonable proficiency with writing reports, summarizing information, and capturing stories through anecdotes or interviews, is highly recommended.
Some familiarity with photography is recommended.
The ability to keep basic accounts (bookkeeping) of expenses and transfers
Other skills that may be useful but are not required include experience with
first aid, translating and interpreting, cooking, and other skills of daily
A good working knowledge of the current situation in Colombia is highly
Volunteers are expected to do outreach in the United States to share their
experience (speaking, writing) after service in Colombia.
FOR covers living expenses (food, lodging, and travel when doing FOR work) in the field during the term of service (in addition to providing a small monthly stipend and some health insurance). Volunteers are strongly
encouraged to raise money to assist with their personal expenses while serving on the team.
Training for Volunteers
FOR will provide extensive training, which may include the following:
reading materials, FOR-led training sessions, attendance at the training sessions of other accompaniment organizations (such as Peace Brigades International), self-study plans, and attendance at conferences, classes or trainings on specific topics. In addition to training, each volunteer first will go through an interview process. The interview and training process is a mutual-discernment process to help the volunteer decide if serving in this project is a commitment he or she would like to make, and to help FOR determine if he or she is adequately prepared for the experience.
Fellowship of Reconciliation: Colombia Peace Presence
Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) representatives in Colombia will act in the spirit of the Fellowship's statement of purpose, which joins people together "to explore the power of love and truth for resolving human
conflict." FOR members identify with people "who are the victims of injustice and exploitation, and seek to develop resources of active nonviolence to transform such circumstances." They also "refuse to
participate in any war or to sanction military preparations." These commitments have led the FOR to recognize and support the extraordinary commitment to nonviolence and justice of the Peace Community of San José de
Apartadó, in the Urabá region of Colombia. FOR representatives at all times abide by the laws and Constitution of Colombia.
Our mission and mandate are expressions of interest and concern of people of conscience and faith in the United States for the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in Colombia, and for a just and nonviolent resolution of conflict in Colombia generally.
Through the installation in Colombia of observers who are U.S. citizens, the
FOR seeks to:
Support the Peace Community's right to life and protection of the human
rights of its members and of nearby residents.
Contribute to improvement of the situation of human rights and international humanitarian law in San José de Apartadó and the Urabá region, in order that civil society have the space to work for social justice and the peaceful solution of conflicts in the region.
Inform the international community about the situation of the Peace Community and the Urabá region, thus contributing to a deeper understanding of the human dimensions of the conflict in Colombia and of efforts to
peacefully resolve the conflict.
Convey to Colombians through our presence the active concern of U.S. society for civilians affected by the conflict in Colombia.
The FOR Accompaniment Project seeks to obtain these objectives through the
Accompaniment of Peace Community: FOR observers will physically accompany members of La Unión in San José de Apartadó, in the settlement and work areas, in order to strengthen their security. FOR observers may also accompany Peace Community members while they travel outside the community, and other settlements of San José on occasion. FOR observers carry out accompaniment on the basis of requests from the community.
Reporting to International Community: FOR observers in San José report, including via public communications, on their experiences and what they learn to the international community, especially the United States. As
resources permit, FOR will also report on peace initiatives in Colombia besides the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó.
Communication with Colombian U.S. and UN officials, CPP Advisory group, and human rights NGOs: FOR observers periodically communicate their presence and concerns to Colombian and U.S. authorities, to convey FOR's concerns related to the community and to learn from others, perspectives.
These activities are meant to be mutually reinforcing of each other.
For more information or to apply see http://www.forcolombia.org/apply or
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean
369 15th St., Oakland, CA 94612
fax: (510) 763-1409
www.forcolombia.org E-mail: email@example.com