Grant Applications and Indonesian History

Recently, my work has transitioned away from country programs to supporting the International Bridges to Justice main office in Geneva. We have begun the process of applying for IBJ’s first Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA) through USAID. When applying for grants from the federal government, organizations must specify direct and indirect costs for their programs. Direct costs are connected directly to a program the organization is operating, while indirect expenses are used to benefit the organization as a whole, rather than a specific program. Examples of indirect costs include salaries for employees that work for the organization as a whole, rather than individual programs. A NICRA agreement allows organizations to negotiate for a higher indirect cost rate than the available standard, which is 10%. An increase in indirect funding allows organizations to hire more staff members, leading to more fundraising and program management.

The application process involves reading through the Office of Management and Budget’s Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations part 200. The initial application process consists of twenty-six items focused on the financial structure of the organization. My work has consisted of reading through the 2 C.R.F. 200 to find specific definitions of the financial information needed and passing those definitions on to the financial side of the organization. I am hopeful that our final application will be successful.

As I am not able to travel this summer, I have tried to spend my time learning more about the places and topics I would have otherwise experienced first-hand. As I have done some work for the Indonesian program, I recently read the novel Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan, an Indonesian author. The story, which begins during the period right before World War II and covers the rest of the twentieth century, is set against Dutch colonial rule, Japanese occupation, Indonesia’s fight for independence, and the violence that resulted from conflict between communists, the military, and other political groups. I greatly enjoyed reading this, but it made me aware that my understanding of Indonesian history is lacking, which led me to The Jakarta Method, by the U.S. journalist Vincent Bevins. Although this book focuses on U.S. involvement in the developing world during the Cold War, it provides a comprehensive overview of the transitional period where Indonesia gained its independence from the Netherlands under the first president, Sukarno. Tensions between the military and the Communist Party of Indonesia were fueled in part by CIA involvement and erupted in violence that took the lives of between 500,000 to one million people. The violence was particularly brutal on the island of Bali, now better known as a tourist destination. This has motivated me to research more into the truth and reconciliation process as a response to violence. I plan to read more about Cambodian history, and I think the contrast between the domestic and international response to violence in Cambodia and Indonesia will be very interesting.