Maria Eugenia, or Maru as she is known to those close to her, has been working for peace in Colombia since she was a young teenager. In 1991, after her uncle was killed, she felt angry and hateful about the conflict in Colombia. A friend encouraged her to not let her rage turn into vengeance, but instead use it to help transform communities most affected by the violence into places building sustainable peace. With this encouragement, she began to volunteer with the Interchurch Peace and Justice Commission and create real change for communities across Colombia. She believes that women, “as creators of life,” play an important role in human rights work because, “we can feel a greater responsibility in the defense of life and rights. Not just because we are mothers, but because we generate life.”
It’s been over a year since I first hopped off the plane and arrived in Colombia, and although I’m writing now from Bogota, it’s the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó that was my base for almost that entire time. I can’t speak for everyone, but my time in the Peace Community certainly influenced me. I don’t know if I really have the words to explain how, so bear with me.
It’s been a little over one full year since I left the United States and moved to Colombia to work with FOR Peace Presence. I’ve been thinking a lot about where the time has gone, what’s changed, and what hasn’t.
This year, I learned about isolation and connection. How to stay close to the people I love, even if they are far away. I learned about just how difficult it can be to connect to people from a vastly different experience than me, and that maybe I’m not as open hearted as I’d like to think I am. I saw first-hand the effects of an economic system that privileges the Global North and tyrannizes the Global South.
Fundraising and Development Director
Salary: 2,700,000 COP per month
Location: Bogotá, Colombia
Hours: Full-time (40 hours per week)
As you know, FOR Peace Presence has been accompanying the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó (SJA) for over 15 years, living and working alongside its members. At 10:15 am this past Friday December 29th, a group of five neo-paramilitaries armed with guns and machetes came to the bodega where the Peace Community operates its cacao business, and tried to assassinate community leader and legal representative Germán Graciano Posso. The Peace Community had received information regarding the planned assassination, and had denounced the threat on their website about a week earlier.
We need your help to denounce the grave events that have transpired in the Peace Community, and to demand an adequate response from the Colombian government. Please write to the Colombian embassy in your home country, and to your country’s embassy in Colombia (if you are European, please also write to the European Union Delegation to Colombia). We have provided a letter template here. You can copy and paste the letter, with your full name, into the body of an email addressed to the relevant persons. Please find all contact information here.