This week has been a little crazy at IBJ. We had two grant proposals due for Liberia and another proposal is due for Finland next week. Each grant proposal is different but they all have one thing in common, they all involve a ton of writing! We broke the sections of the Liberia proposal up so each intern worked on a different part in order to get it done in time. I was specifically working on the job descriptions and various sections of the narrative. It is pretty incredible to watch my fellow interns work ethic. Everyone is so dedicated to the cause and we work together like a well-oiled machine even though we have only known each other for a few short months. The team we have here has really made this summer special. I continuously learn from each intern and I’m so proud to be a part of this IBJ family. There are a few interns specifically who deserve a shout out this week as they worked until midnight multiple times to get the proposal done in time: Reeana, Kristi, Rachel, Rebecca, and Kathy- you are all super stars!
Half way through the week I shifted my attention from Liberia to Finland as we have to complete the proposal by next Wednesday to send off to our senior legal advisor to make edits. The Finland proposal is quite extensive. It includes 9 appendices with 8 annexes enclosed within the first appendix. The Finland proposal focuses on providing the LGTBI community in Myanmar and India legal representation and support. The LGTBI community in Myanmar faces deep-rooted discrimination. Often individuals are beaten, verbally abused, and treated as outcasts simply for loving a person of their same sex. Individuals who identify as LGTBI are entirely unprotected as Myanmar law specifically discriminates against the LGTBI community and in return, these laws influence how the general population views same-sex relationships. Not only is it illegal to marry a person of the same sex, but is illegal to participate in any form of same-sex sexual activity or sodomy in Myanmar and is punishable by fines and imprisonment for up to ten years. Additionally, transgender people are permitted to be specifically targeted for arrests under Section 35c of the Police Act. Policemen use these laws to blackmail members of the LGTBI community into giving them money. These prejudices are only furthered by cultural beliefs such as the idea that when one commits adultery in their first life they will be reincarnated as an LGTBI identifying individual. Due to these extreme views, members of the LGTBI community in Myanmar encounter abuse, mistreatment, and discrimination in every stage of their life.
Similarly in India, sexual activity between members of the same sex is illegal and same-sex couples cannot marry or even obtain a civil partnership. In some parts of the country secret honor killings are planned and the only way for young gay men to survive is to run away with no financial or social support. In other areas, lesbian women are subjected to family-sanctioned corrective rapes, which are often perpetrated by their own family members. Individuals identifying as LGTBI are unprotected by the laws of India and are greatly in need of competent legal representation.
IBJ’s goal is to provide protection to these individuals who need it most by equipping them with a voice and the support they need. IBJ has successfully implemented a number of programs and activities in countries all over the world that ensure early access to justice and competent legal representation for marginalized groups. This grant proposal project involves a number of IBJ’s proven successful programs. If IBJ receives this grant funding, we will be able to further implement each in our Myanmar and India offices and reach more people who really need it. I’m looking forward to putting the finishing touches on this proposal next week and tracking its progress even after I leave IBJ.
Time for highs and lows! My high for the week is that MY MOM IS HERE!! I am so excited! She has never been to Europe before, so I feel extremely blessed to get to share this experience with her. This weekend we went to Bern and Lucerne. I think of the two Lucerne was my favorite. We took the golden pass which is a panoramic train that takes you through the countryside of Switzerland. It was absolutely beautiful and by far one of the highlights of my trip. I cannot wait to show my mom around Geneva. I have a feeling she is going to love it so much she will want to move. I don’t think I have a low this week with my mom being here. I guess the only low I can really come up with is that my dad could not be here too.
I hope you all stay tuned for more on Finland and our mother/ daughter adventures but for now, I’m off to prepare for the week ahead.
Until next time,