PAR volunteers are missionaries.
PAR volunteers are motivated by love and joy to help transform our land and peoples towards justice and peace.
As missionaries, we have strict qualifications for membership and have a code of ethics and discipline that governs our actions and words.
As a community, we continually seek to share our lives and resources with each other in accordance with the Spirit’s character–“love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).
Here’s the profile of the members of our missionary community:
1. Focus on Peace and Reconciliation. PBCI missionaries are people with strong belief in active non-violence, conflict transformation, human rights, and the work of Peace and Reconciliation (PAR).
a. They can work under pressure with tact and diplomacy.
b. Because they live with other staff and volunteers for weeks, months, or years, maturity
and a sense of humour are vital.
c. While no PBCI missionaries have ever been seriously injured working on a PAR Field, it is important to be aware that the work does present many challenges and is certainly not glamorous.
d. The right person can gain important experience and make a lasting contribution working on a PAR Project.
2. Language. It is essential that PBCI missionaries are able to communicate fluently in the language of the project.
a. Team members live and work constantly in these languages.
b. Nearly all contacts, official and social, are made in the language of the country.
c. It is therefore necessary on a professional, personal and emotional level to speak the language well.
d. For some projects, the willingness of candidates to learn other languages used in a PAR Project Area is also a requirement.
3. Age. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age when they join the project.
4. Political Analysis. The ability to analyse political situations allows all PBCI missionaries to have greater insight into the workings of the country’s political system and encourages better foresight and planning in the team’s decisions.
5. Knowldege of the PAR Project Area. It is also essential to have a good knowledge of the history, political situation and culture of a PAR Project Area where PBCI works.
6. Non-Violence. An understanding of the theory and practice of active non-violence is an important skill for anyone considering working with PBCI.
a. It gives insight into the reality of conflict and PBCI’s role within that conflict.
b. Potential missionaries must also have a thorough understanding of all the principles of PBCI work in order to become clear about non-violence.
7. Public Relations & Diplomacy. PBCI missionaries need to be able to deal confidently with public relations since teams maintain cordial relations with many groups, including popular movement organizations, NGOs and governmental bodies.
a. PBCI missionaries have access to a lot of information that needs to be carefully analyzed and utilized.
b. In a conflict situation the emphasis on accurate information is paramount, as is a flow of up to date information within the team.
c. PBCI missionaries must be particularly aware of the possible consequences and harm resulting from misuse of information or breach of confidentiality.
8. Documentation, Communication, and Administration. A large part of PBCI’s work involves the handling of information, so written and oral experience in writing reports, articles, photography, lay-outing, graphic arts, etc. would be very useful.
a. Experience of working with computers, creating and maintaining office systems and office management skills are also desirable.
b. A basic knowledge of information and communication technology is necessary for all PBCI missionaries.
9. Managing Stress. The team often has to work through periods of extreme stress and tension due to a particular political situation, levels of work or interpersonal tensions.
a. It is therefore crucial for each member to be able to manage their stress and work efficiently to meet deadlines under pressure.
b. PBCI missionaries must be willing to go through personal counseling when instructed by senior staff.
10. Living and Working in a Group. In a PAR Project Team you will be living and working very closely with a group of people.
a. The size of the team varies but the ability to cope with and appreciate this situation is essential to PBCI missionaries and PAR Volunteers.
b. In addition, team members live and work together in relatively small spaces; members must be able to function with the different rhythms and styles of the other members.
c. Problems within the team can quickly begin to affect the quality of external work.
d. To deal with such situations all volunteers must be tolerant of one another, their opinions and idiosyncrasies and be prepared to work to resolve interpersonal tensions.
11. Flexibility. The level and type of work being requested of the PBCI PAR Project Team often changes rapidly and with very little notice, thus an ability to learn quickly, take on board new ideas and concepts, read into situations and rapidly assess their significance are vital characteristics of a PBCI missionary.
12. Cultural Sensitivity. Sensitivity and respect towards other cultures (enhanced by the experience of working in a substantially different culture) is an important requisite in facilitating team integration and building an understanding of how the project community works.
13. Household Chores. It is necessary to take part in housekeeping duties—i.e., cooking, cleaning, doing the dishes, etc.
14. Psycho-Social Health and Readiness. At the core of PBCI’s work is the potential and real threat of violence.
a. Before starting work with a team and with the help of a PBCI Personnel Care and Development (PC&D) Team, each PBCI missionary needs to seriously consider a series of personal and emotional questions.
b. This process of raising self-awareness and openly acknowledging one’s strengths and weaknesses, is crucial preparation for the effective management of stressful situations volunteers will almost certainly encounter.
c. Without this awareness it can be difficult to address issues that may arise during a period on the team and this can be harmful both to the individual volunteer and the team as a whole. The following areas should be considered:
- Personal limitations, fears and prejudices
- Motives for and expectations of working under PBCI
- The role which PBCI and the individual personnel plays in the conflict
- Your own political convictions
- Your views on being non-partisan, especially given that most PBCI missionaries come from very politically active backgrounds in their own region or province
- The possibility of your own death
- The possibility of torture
d. Working with PBCI can be very difficult emotionally.
e. When PBCI missionaries are experiencing psycho-social situations that are causing them
- to be afraid,
- to be depressed,
- to feel being abandoned, or
- to have a paralysing sense of confusion,
they are expected to connect with our PC&D Team immediately for guidance and counselling.