On Monday, I received a new task that was different from anything else that I had done. IBJ has recently been trying to update a lot of its practices and presentations by revitalizing its social media campaigns, creating new infographics for proposals, and putting together reports on the impact that its country programs have had. I was put in charge of compiling those reports so that IBJ could include them in all future proposals and plans. First, I found the number of people represented, the number of lawyers trained, and the amount of people that IBJ has reached through rights awareness campaigns both directly and indirectly. In the end, IBJ has represented over 32,000 people all across the world, trained over 23,000 lawyers, and reached over 25 million people. Next, we needed to find out how much money that IBJ had saved governments across the world by freeing people who were wrongfully detained and how much money IBJ had allowed those freed individuals to earn. After determining that the average prison in the countries that IBJ operates in spends less than $300 per person per year and that IBJ saves, on average, five years of prison time per person, we calculated that IBJ had saved governments all over the world almost fifty million dollars. While this number is impressive on its own, we also calculated that IBJ had allowed its clients to earn anywhere from $325 million dollars to $500 million dollars total that they otherwise would have been prevented from earning while in prison. Overall, this was a very entertaining assignment and it allowed me to see just how much IBJ had helped people and governments all over the world.
Continuing on from this last assignment, I was also told to develop some infographics to represent IBJ’s programs and partnerships. The first infographic I worked on was for UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 which is part of seventeen total goals that the UN developed as guidelines for future policies and international agreements. These goals included environmental, economic, and political guidelines but IBJ was particularly interested in goal 16 which is entitled “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.” SDG 16 sets targets such as reducing violence and torture, promoting rule of law, protecting fundamental freedoms, and strengthening national institutions. Luckily, I had experience with developing and designing projects such as these from my three years at Office Depot where I worked at the copy center. I was able to quickly put together an infographic and pass it along so it can be used in future proposals and on IBJ’s website.
Next, I finished going through a list of possible donors for India that I started some time ago. I ended up finding several more donors that could be good fits for IBJ and passed those along to Ramin so that other staff members could start writing proposals for these organizations. Hopefully at least one of these organizations will provide much needed help to IBJ’s India program as it is currently operating without any money and a very large caseload.
Moving on from these side projects, I finally finished my two proposals for the National Endowment for Democracy that I wrote for IBJ’s Burundi and Cambodia programs. After finishing the main part of these proposals, I had to work on the budgets, which is something that I was very unfamiliar with. After looking up past proposals I was able to put together a skeleton outline for a budget that included payments for IBJ’s lawyers, and funding for judicial roundtables and rights awareness campaigns. Luckily for me, Ramin was able to step in and help fill out the rest of the numbers so that we could move forward. After the budgets were complete I sent all of the materials to Sanjee and he forwarded them to the NED. It is always a really great feeling to see a project through from start to finish especially knowing that if it is successful, I will have helped lawyers across the world continue their fight to end torture and educate thousands of civilians about their basic legal rights. Now, all I can do with these two proposals is wait and hope that we hear a response before I have to leave.
My last project for the week involved IBJ India. A couple of weeks ago I had started a proposal to the Kingdom of the Netherlands for IBJ’s program in India. I had long since finished this proposal but there was one element that I could not complete. The proposal called for an FCRA number, which IBJ does not have. An FCRA number is required by the Indian government in order to regulate all foreign contributions coming into the country. After doing some research and reaching out the Netherlands through their accountability fund (where we were applying for the grant), I determined the documents that IBJ needed to apply for this number but our office in India had to actually submit the application. After contacting Ajay Verma, IBJ’s program manager in India, he was convinced that IBJ needed prior permission from the Netherlands before we could get the FCRA number. He thought that the Netherlands’ Accountability Fund needed to give us a letter of commitment showing that they would donate to us before we could get the FCRA number. This, however, was impossible because the Netherlands would only give us a letter of commitment after we had submitted our application/proposal but in order to submit this we needed, you guessed it, the FCRA number. After looking into this matter further I found that IBJ did not need the letter of commitment and I tried to explain this to Ajay but he was still convinced that we needed this letter. After going back and forth several times we set up a skype call to discuss it further. The next day I called Ajay and we talked about this misunderstanding, after about a half hour, however, we still did not get anywhere. In the end, we decided to involve Karen or Sanjee in order to straighten this issue out. Although I did not get to resolve this situation during this call, I did learn some very interesting information from Ajay. He informed IBJ that he had just been given permission to visit all of India’s prisons which is a huge development for IBJ’s work and something that no one else in the country has. This accomplishment is a testament to the hard work of IBJ’s lawyers and program managers across the world. They are extremely dedicated individuals and seemingly accomplish huge feats such as this on a daily basis.
Finally, as a side note, I have attached pictures from my trip to Paris which I forgot to mention last week. I spent two days in Paris and tried to visit as many locations as possible. I had been to Paris before but it had been over five years ago so I was excited to go back and take in the Parisian atmosphere once again.