Latest stories from Roman’s life: ‘@ Blog’!
A short update to let you know that after travelling around Portugal and Thailand, I am back to Bangladesh. I should be here around 4 weeks this time around, and I am likely to be between Dhaka and southern part of the country.
As you might have seen in this gallery, the visit to Portugal went really well, and we are now trying to finalise all the paperwork to buy the house. It is not finished yet, so I should not be too excited, but I find it difficult not to be! I will certainly inform you the end result of this excitement!
This week, hopefully, I am going to write a longer update the latest developments in my life, and certainly a paragraph or two on the latest news relating to Tahir.
OK, this is going to be a very short trip, but I am exciting to be going to Portugal. Already packing, as I am flying a day after tomorrow. Not only that I am going to meet Kasia there… we are going to be trying to choose our new house in Obidos! I will surely post pictures of the most favourite properties.
Yesterday, I made a mistake and spent lots of time reading Polish newspapers. I nearly got sick. I do not recognise my own country. I am ashamed of being Polish. Hatred towards refugees, hatred towards people of Middle East origin (and some others) scares me. I can’t and do not want to accept it. I will not accept it, even if this means that there is no place for me in my own country. Feeling so very sad!
Yesterday, we had a bit of panic in Dhaka. A suicide bomber tried to blow himself off at the airport. The plan did not work out, and for whatever reason the explosives went off too early. Luckily, he did not manage to hurt other people substantially. He was the only person that died. Two military personnel were slightly injured too.
As expected, the incident caused a great deal of panic. But interesting, the panic was mainly exercised by the expatriate community. Foreigners complained, immediately imposed bans on movements, some cancelled plans of going to the airport. The usual thing that many of us would do in so called ‘the West’. On the other hand, the reaction from the locals was starkly different. Most decided not to pay much attention to what has happened. People did notice, of course, but decided to not get terrorised by those who want them to feel scarred. When confronted about the attack, my Bangladeshi friends would just nod their heads, and would simply ask about my plans for the weekend. ‘There is no point in worrying’ - they underlined. ‘The guy is crazy, they are making arrests now, and we need to hope for the best’ - most underlined. ‘By worrying, you let them achieve their goals, and you take so much of your happiness away from yourself’. ‘What’s the point?’ - someone else added.
Some of you are aware that I am very fond of Bangladesh, and like the country very much. When I wonder about why that may be, I think that it is the people that make me happy here. When dealing with Bangladeshis, things are simply and uncomplicated. People seem genuinely happy and are extremely friendly. The experience of yesterday, underlines it so clearly. I am sure that there is a lesson or two that we, the Europeans’ could learn from Bangladesh. Appreciating the moment, and not giving in to terror are just some of those!
Three months of my intense involvement in projects in Bangladesh have already passed. I enjoy working in Dhaka, though I find it difficult physically to share my time between Bangladesh and Thailand. From that perspective, I am looking forward to getting back to Bangkok ‘permanently’ in June. I am clearly getting older, and appreciate a degree of ‘stability’, if at all possible.
In the meanwhile, together with one of my Polish friends, we are looking at buying property in Portugal. We have now identified a few houses, and will be viewing them in April. Once we choose, what we would like, we will then be trying to overcome all administrative hurdles. Hopefully, by the middle of the year, we will be able to have our property there!
In April, together with Tahir, I will be touring Thailand too. I have got some holidays to take. Some free time, is a good opportunity to explore a bit of the country. We have not decided what we are going to visit yet. I am guessing, we may be trying to visit the northern parts.
Today, still in Bangkok, but on Tuesday, I will be back to Dhaka. Shortly after my arrival to Bangladesh, I shall be visiting some of the humanitarian projects that we support in Chittagong Tract Hills and later in Cox’s Bazar.
It is already nearly 3 weeks this time around in Bangladesh. Time flies so fast. I guess, it does so for wrong reasons too. The humanitarian community (and not only the humanitarian community for that matter) is extremely worried about the situation of the Rohingya. The human rights violations report (can be accessed through this link here) is depressing. There is little wonder that so many people flee Myanmar and try seek safety in Bangladesh. But here in Bangladesh, there are problems too. Bangladesh is an extremely hospitable and welcoming country, but it is very poor too. While the country has accepted around 500,000 refugees from Myanmar (putting most of the rich EU countries in shame), it is now overwhelmed. In order to help Bangladesh cope, we need action. We need to find resources for developing water and sanitation, health, shelter, or educational infrastructure for the refugees, but also for the communities, who have, so generously, decided to open their homes to those in need. We need attention even quicker, as we now worry that we may be faced with waterborne diseases (yes, if you are in a poor condition and/or malnourished waterborne diseases can kill you easily). Yet given that all news now concentrates on problems in the Middle East, or with drama of the new administration of the United States, the plea of the Rohingya seems little noticed. Sad times!
I am travelling for a week to Bangkok on Friday. Looking forward to check on Tahir and his well being there. He seems energised, after our recent visit of his sponsors from Canada. It is already 4 months since we filed an application for his resettlement to Canada. Still long way to go, but we are hopeful.
I am now in process of dealing with my first personal tax declaration for Portugal. So excited to feel that I am really a resident there! It is already one year!
Two weeks in Bangkok has gone very fast. Quite enjoyable on a personal and professional level, less so when it comes to impressions on the latest developments in politics in the world.
A very good friend of ours, Paula, has just arrived to visit us from Canada. Paula is one of Tahir’s Group of Five sponsors for his refugee resettlement there. Her visit gives an excellent opportunity for two of them to get to know one another… which is crucial, given that we hope that sooner rather than later, we would be able to finalise Tahir’s departure for Canada.
I have also been very active and busy professionally. Together with my colleagues from my own organisation, and with colleagues from our partner organistaions were finalising lots of plans for our projects in Bangladesh, but also in other countries in South East Asia. Perhaps hardly surprising, lots of our attention will go to humanitarian issues relating to protection of refugees’ across the region. We are also going to work on some projects relating to increasing capacity to respond to disasters in large urban areas, such as Dhaka, Ulaanbaatar, or Manila. Quite fascinating.
The changes in refugee resettlement policies of the Trump's administration are translating to thousands of human tragedies in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia (among other countries). Many refugees, who have been in these countries for years (mainly refugees fleeing religious persecution in their home countries) are affected. Hundreds of people were getting ready to depart to the USA, after being promised by the American Government that they would be resettled there (following all vetting procedures). The new regulations have put the lives of these people in despair. No one knows whether the promises will be kept, and no one knows when there would be some clarity over what would happen next. Needless to say that those refugees who have not been qualified for the resettlement yet (but hoped to be chosen in the future) are also affected. Lots of work is needed from all of us, including the governments of the host countries to decide what would happen to these people. Regardless of political and economical considerations, we need to remember that it is unfair to keep people in a limbo. We need to find a solution on what next… and it is regardless of whether the option of the resettlement to the USA is on the table or not. In any case, I find the decisions of the US administration towards those who have been promised the resettlement to be utterly unfair and heartless. Countries should honour honour their commitments, and only make changes in policies, however tough, in a way that do not undermine trust in agreements. Very unfair, especially that such behaviour comes from a government of the country that so many people still look up to.
Two weeks in Dhaka went extremely fast. I got really busy in arranging the office in Bangladesh, and trying to plan our organisation’s plans for 2017. Given the ongoing refugee crisis in Bangladesh, much of our energy and resources will go towards trying to provide humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya refugees arriving to Cox’s Bazar region from Myanmar’s Rakhine State. We are also likely to get involved in a project preparing for an earthquake in Dhaka. Reports suggest that a large scale earthquake may hit the capital of Bangladesh in next 20 years or so. While one can never really predict the timing of this kind of calamity, it is a good idea to start as soon as possible.
I also managed to get some of my personal life’s logistics sorted in Dhaka. Finally found a small apartment, where I will be able to live comfortably while in the country. The apartment is not far from the office, and is quite small, which is perfect, as it will be easier to make it feel cosy.
But I am actually writing this post from Bangkok. Arrived here a day before yesterday, and will stay for around 10 days. While in town, I will be busy with working stuff, but of course, I will also have a chance to spend time with Tahir. Great news is that next weekend, one of Tahir’s Canadian sponsors is coming to Thailand, and it will be a great opportunity for them to get acquainted a bit better.
Finally, yesterday we visited a nice ethnographical museum in Bangkok, not far from my flat in the city. Really a nice place. We took some photos, which you can find in this gallery.
First week, after my Christmas break is about to finish. The evening is already advanced, and I am preparing to go to bed. Tomorrow, it will be a busy day in the office, trying to catch up with lots of issues that have accumulated during my holiday absence.
Living in Dhaka during some security concerns have some advantages. As I am not allowed to move around the city too freely, I tend to spend a considerable amount of time in my flat. This in turn, allowed me to to do some reading and writing. I decided to create a mailing-list that I named: “Friends of Tahir”. The list’s members are the people who contributed financially to Tahir’s resettlement fund, and all those who are interested in his fate for whatever reason. I then wrote the first ‘official’ update to the group. This made me happy, as when I was writing, it made me realised, how much work we have done in our efforts of helping Tahir out, and also how many amazing people are involved in trying to find a solution for him in one or another way. While, I can’t post all the details of the update here online, friends who would like to receive the last update, or get included in the distribution list, should write to me on my email, or alternatively to this email address: email@example.com.
Hoping that you have got a peaceful weekend and then week ahead of you!
My holidays have finished far too quickly. After spending a great time in southern Thailand and a week in Nowy Sacz, I am now back to Bangkok, and preparing for a trip to Bangladesh, where I will go tomorrow and stay in for a week.
It was a really good break. I needed time to reflect on some of the developments that my life has brought and have managed to recharge the batteries and get ready for 2017.
Once again, I would like to wish you all the most successful year! I hope it will be a prosperous and happy one for all of us! Happy New Year!
If you travel to Krakow, do not do it with LOT Polish Airlines! The trip from Bangkok to Krakow went okay, but only as far as Warsaw. The last bit between Warsaw and Krakow turned out to be a nightmare. The fog at the Krakow Airport made it impossible for the planes to land there - this in itself was not such a bad thing (although a bit annoying), but the way that the airline handled it was just scandalous… Lack of information, a dirty coach that was supposed to take us from Warsaw to Krakow… which did not have a working heating (mind you, Decembers in Poland are cold), and which broke down in the middle of the way, as it (the coach) was so poorly maintained. If one adds that the driver was rude on top of that, then you will have the whole picture… Truly unprofessional and unpleasant.
Reaching home was wonderful though. Mama right away decided to spoil me with delicious food. Papa made sure that I had some nice drinks, and my brother’s family made sure that we had the most wonderful and traditional Christmas Eve dinner. It was very, very nice!
Today, I am meeting with some high school friends, and later in the week, there will be more encounters with friends too. The time here will be busy, but in the same time exciting!
Before returning to Bangkok next Sunday, I will also make sure to do some shopping and will stock up on some delicacies that one can not buy in Asia. All in all, lots of fun in Poland so far. You are welcome to follow on some of the images, at this gallery.