“PBI was my university” – Rusa Jeremic reflects on her time as a PBI volunteer in Guatemala

Published by Brent Patterson on

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As Peace Brigades International approaches its 40th anniversary in 2021, we are sharing the reflections of past volunteers from Canada who accompanied at-risk defenders in various PBI project countries over the years.

We begin with Rusa Jeremic, a Toronto resident who volunteered in Guatemala in 1989-90 and then again in 1994.

Rusa tells us: “PBI was my university. As a volunteer, I had the tremendous honour to walk alongside so many courageous Guatemalans risking their lives for social change during a very turbulent and violent time. We lost friends and because PBI’s accompaniment work is effective, we were also threatened. I gained perspectives on structural violence and mostly watched in awe the perseverance of folks challenging oppressive power and demanding justice. Their resilience, their power. These are the lessons I carry with me to this day.”

Rusa was also able to share two photos with us.

The first photo (above) is of Rusa with Rigoberta Menchu at Friends House in Toronto when Rigoberta visited Canada in 1990-91.

The second photo (below) is of Rusa (on the right) and Maria (a PBI volunteer from Spain) receiving an award on behalf of PBI from GRUFEPROMEFAM (a women’s organization in Guatemala) in December 1989.

Please consider making an online donation to PBI-Canada to help us with our continuing outreach efforts to find volunteers to accompany defenders. Accompaniment continues to be critically needed in helping to make space for peace.

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