Eva Scarfe, a Peace Brigades International volunteer for more than 30 years!

Published by Brent Patterson on

Eva Scarfe has made an invaluable contribution to Peace Brigades International (PBI) and is a key part of our history.

PBI-Honduras has highlighted in a recent post: “Eva Scarfe is one of the longest-serving Peace Brigades International volunteers.”

“She was part of the PBI team in El Salvador in 1989-1990, field volunteer with PBI-Colombia in 2000-2001, part of the PBI-Guatemala Project Exploratory Committee (PEC) from 2001-2003, a member of the PBI-Guatemala Project Committee from 2003-2015 and continues on as an advisor. She currently serves on the committees for Honduras and Nicaragua.”

Canadian PBI volunteer Scott Pearce tells this story of an experience he had with Eva in Colombia in 2000-2001:

“There was one instance in Uraba. We were walking up from the town center of San Jose up towards the outlying hamlet of La Union, which is also part of the peace community, and one of the local farmers came running towards us and told us that further up the trail there was a group of soldiers that had captured two youths and were questioning them, and he was worried that they might be disappeared.”

“We continued up the trail, and we came across the soldiers, we didn’t see the youths. We started talking to the soldiers very amicably, wished them a good day and started chatting with them. My PBI colleague was Eva Scarfe, one of the longest serving PBI members, she was in Guatemala for years, remarkable woman, she said in the middle of chatting that ‘We heard there was trouble in the area, a couple of youths, what can you tell us about this?’”

“The soldiers looked a little stunned and went to talk to their commander and came back, and we kept talking with them, but we weren’t going to leave until we found out how those youths were. Five minutes later, they just released these two boys, and we hadn’t made any demands at all. We found out later that they’d had one of them tied to a tree blindfolded and were waving a machete in front of his face, threatening him. People said, if you hadn’t been there, something bad could have happened.”

Various monthly information packages, bulletins, newsletters and posts tell us a little bit about Eva’s history with PBI.

This May 2006 PBI-Guatemala monthly information package reported, “This month, Kerstin Reemtsma and Eva Scarfe, both members of the Project Committee, with support from the Project Coordinators Office in Madrid, have been finalising the details of the European representatives delegates trip to Guatemala.”

That entry adds, “The objective of the trip was to enlighten Europeans and European institutions of how the situation is for Human Rights defenders in Guatemala and strengthen the links between Europeans and Guatemalans in order to get more support for the Human Rights defenders.”

In August 2006, the PBI-Guatemala monthly information package highlighted, “Eva Scarfe, member of the Project Co-ordinating Committee, held meetings in Ireland with Adrian Fitzgerald, Michelle Moylan and Richard Daly, of the Civil Society Section, Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs; Sarah McCan and Colette Craven of Trocaire, and Catriona Rice and Natasha O’Brien of Frontline.”

In this March 2007 bulletin, PBI-Guatemala notes, “Eva Scarfe worked as a volunteer in the PBI Salvador and Colombia Projects. She has also worked for many years in the Communities of Populations in Resistance in Ixcán, Guatemala.”

PBI-Guatemala adds, “In 2001 she joined the project’s exploratory committee. She has been working on the committee since then and feels really good about it.”

That bulletin quotes Eva saying: “I hope the project continues to contribute in the most relevant way, and that one day the Guatemala project will be able to close down, when human rights are properly protected.”

In August 2008, this PBI-Guatemala monthly information package noted, “In Australia, Eva Scarfe, member of the project committee and PBI Australia link, met with members of PBI Australia on August 3, to bring them up to date with the work of the project, and to assist in the preparation of an advocacy tour around Canberra.”

In October 2011, Eva, as a member of the Honduras working group, spoke in Bern, Switzerland about her participation in the PBI human rights clarification mission in Honduras that took place in May of that year.

In 2012 Eva helped produce this project committee exploratory report on a September-October 2012 visit to Honduras.

In February 2015, Eva also helped produce this PBI-Honduras briefing for the Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in Honduras.

When PBI-USA visited Guatemala in 2015, they reported in this newsletter: “Maripaz Gallardo de la Torre and Eva Scarfe joined us for the afternoon to share their reflections on PBI’s work as well as the current threats facing human rights defenders in the country.”

They add, “Although there was tremendous concern for the rate of killings of human rights defenders, Eva shared her assurances that her experience (of which she has plenty after her 80+ years on this earth and 30+ years in Guatemala) informed her that a state of emergency was not imminent in Guatemala. The power and resolve exhibited by the people of Guatemala during the Presidential scandals of 2015 is still present and it will prevail, she shared.”

In 2016, Eva helped produce this PBI-Honduras annual report.

In late 2019, Eva was in Honduras for the project’s General Assembly. She can be seen in the photo at the top in an informal moment at that meeting. Eva took sick at that time and is now doing well in Australia. The photo below is from when she was recovering in Guatemala with her daughter Isabel and PBI friends.

PBI-Canada sends our solidarity and gratitude to Eva for her many years of invaluable work with Peace Brigades International.


2 Comments

Lyn Adamson · May 10, 2020 at 2:04 pm

Wonderful tribute to a wonderful woman. She really found her place and made a difference with PBI!

Scott Pearce · May 13, 2020 at 12:38 am

Eva Scarfe is a truly remarkable person and I had the very good fortunate of working with her in Colombia in 2000-2001. We shared many intense moments, but it was one very relaxed afternoon that I remember most vividly. I remember sitting with Eva and Father Brendan, a well-loved Jesuit priest, while they drank tea and reminisced about their years of solidarity work in Central America during the ’80s. I felt so fortunate at that moment to be with two people with so much historical knowledge and commitment. Thank you for writing this article, Brent. It’s evident that Eva did not slow down in the two decades after Colombia.

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