During my first post, six weeks ago, I wrote about my first assignment, a proposal to the UNVFVT for Burundi. At that time, I was looking forward to submitting that proposal and attempting to get some real help to IBJ’s program in Burundi which is in dire need of aid. There was only one problem, however, the UN would not grant IBJ access to the application or even process our registration. This continued for weeks, I would email the UN and they would ignore me time and time again. I even called their office directly and they told me that they had processed the registration and we should receive the application shortly. The problem, however, was that they never did any such thing, until this week. After going through six weeks of failed attempts at communication, I was pleasantly surprised to an email from the UN in my inbox on Monday. At this point, I was just happy that I could finally move forward with this proposal and put all of my frustration with the UN aside.
Now that I finally had the application, I could finally begin tailoring my answers to what the UNVFVT required. A lot of the questions were fairly routine: describe your organization, explain the benefits of your organization’s approach, what is the background of the country you are seeking aid for, etc. There were, however, some questions that were much more complex and covered subjects that normally do not come up in proposals such as these. One such question, because we were applying for emergency funding, dealt with the emergency situation and the special procedures that would be developed to do this. IBJ did not have a specific emergency protocol that I could find for such a situation so it was up to me to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the rapidly deteriorating situation in Burundi.
Throughout the week, after doing more research on the crisis in Burundi I developed a plan to propose to the UN. The largest challenge facing IBJ was the ever increasing number of civilians being detained and tortured by the national intelligence officers and police in Burundi, so whatever solution I would propose had to be tailored to meet this demand. Luckily, IBJ has made many connections in Burundi through its many years of service there. One of the most impressive accomplishments is the training of hundreds of lawyers throughout Burundi, lawyers who are extremely dedicated to fighting human rights abuses and violations of basic legal rights. I worked this into my proposal right away and eventually came up with a plan that sought to mobilize as many of these lawyers as possible to help the over four thousand people arrested since the Burundi elections last year. In this way, IBJ will be able to maximize its effectiveness without having to hire and train outside lawyers which is a costly and time-consuming process.
I continued writing and editing this proposal throughout the week, adding more detail as I went and making sure that everything was perfectly tailored to the requirements of the UNVFVT. At the end of the week, I had almost finished the entire application, expect for the budget portion which will be finished next week. It is great to finally be able to move forward with this proposal and hopefully, the UN will see the urgency of the situation in Burundi and grant IBJ’s request for funding. The people on the ground in Burundi cannot continue to wait for aid any longer as their government, military, and police force continues to imprison and torture them, often without cause or evidence. Hopefully, the application and budget will be completed next week so that we can send out the information to the UN.
At the end of the week, and after a great night out with some of the interns at the office, I decided to take a trip to Bern, Switzerland. Coming from Indiana, I had always heard stories about Bern and had been to Bern, Indiana where they had a replica of Zytglogge (a large clock tower) downtown. In addition to this, my mom’s side of the family came from Bern and my grandmother always used to talk about the city. After arriving by train I started by hiking up a nearby mountain named Gurten and after about an hour and a half I reached the top where I was met with a spectacular scene of the city of Bern, the Alps, and the surrounding countryside. I then hiked back down and explored the city for the next several hours. I saw Zytglogge, large cathedrals, the Bern museum, and the hundreds of old-style medieval buildings that dot the city. Bern has a certain charm to it that I have only experienced in a few cities and I hope that I will be able to return one day with other members of my family to share in this experience.