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News Archives - 2006

Making a difference in Colombia

Dec. 25, 2006

Michele Braley and Nils Dybvig, married 1996 graduates ofAugsburg College’s Masters of Social Work Program, are currently volunteering in Barrancabermeja, Colombia with the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT), a group that places violence-reduction teams in crisis situations and militarized areas around the world. Michele and Nils have been working directly with Colombians in rural areas who have been threatened with violence which is a result of the ongoing civil war in the country.

Michele tells of one weekend that she and Nils spent in a small community on the Opon River. “This is a community that was violently forced off their land several years ago. CPT was invited to Colombia to assist this community in returning to their land. A team takes the two-hour canoe ride to the community every week to spend time with the people. Most of the time is spent in people’s homes, but we will also stop to talk to any armed groups in the area to let them know who we are, and to ask them to respect the rights of the local people.”

Michele states that she and Nils “are immersed in some valuable social justice work where we are definitely challenged to use our social work skills. We work in communities where we are invited and our presence allows others to make changes in their lives. We don’t come in with answers. And we work to change policies in our own country that are impacting the situation here.”