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Latest stories from Roman’s life: ‘The Blog’!

Quality of dying


One of the many Rohingya refugee camps in eastern Bangladesh

November proved to be a difficult and eventful month both for me and my family. Although not unexpected, we were all shocked and saddened to learn about Dad’s passing. Departures of people that we love and care about, frequently, challenges us greatly. This was definitely a case with me. The time of coming to terms with Dad’s death created lots of questions that I tried finding an answer to. So I was wondering about the importance of my family, about my friends, about priorities in life… I was wondering about the speed of my life, about the sense of my work, about privileges that I enjoy and about people suffering from wars and conflicts, especially in places that I am familiar with personally. People often wonder about your life quality, but I could not stop thinking about quality of dying. While, it is clear that Papa Maciek suffered tremendously in his last days of life, he also enjoyed an amazing care that was provided to him by the doctors and medical staff. Given how seriously ill he was for years, the doctors managed to extend his life by at least 8 years. He was ill, however we also won a lottery of being able to live in a place where the amazing medical care was possible. 

I remember learning about my father’s death, right after I visited one of the refugee camps for the Rohingya people in Bangladesh (fleeing violence in Myanmar). When I was there, together with my work colleagues we had a chance to learn about the fate of some of the Rohingya ladies, who bravely gave us their account of what had happened to them before they reached the camps of Bangladesh. One of them explained to us that the soldiers came to her little hut in western Myanmar, killed her husband with a machine gun, took her little baby boy, smashed his head against the stone, then threw him in a fire. After all these horrors she was gang-raped and ‘allowed’ to go. Yes, I realise that what I am writing is an extreme that most of people will never experience, yet… this happened to a woman, to a human being that we talked to just days before my own father’s death. 

I still do not know how to comprehend the story of the woman, whom I did not know, but touched me so profoundly and the story of my father passing - the man that was dear to me and I loved. War and peace, privilege and destitution, wealth and extreme poverty… 

So I am sad, and I am saying good bye to my father whom I loved, and to the Rohingya man and the baby, whom I have never met, but are somehow important to me too. Rest in Peace Good People! So long, until we meet together!

Preparing to go back to work


Time spent with Mom is slowly coming to its end. After a week spent between Czechia, Germany and Poland, we are travelling back to Nowy Sacz, our base in Poland. Then two days later, I will be flying back to Bangkok to resume my work activities. 

I will be busy on my return. Things have piled up, and I will need to plan a trip to Myanmar and the Philippines. Then, I also have some TV interviews to be done in Bangkok - in relation to our project supporting refugees in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. 

Together with Tahir, we will be welcoming some guests too. First of all, our Canadian friends (who are also Tahir’s sponsors for the resettlement to Toronto) will come in December. Then in January, my mother from Poland will come, and also a dear friend of mine from Iceland, whom I studied together ages ago in Denmark. Really exciting and excited by it, and definitely look forward to it and will be reporting on all these activities here in this blog. 

Spending time with Mom


It is really special to have an opportunity to spend time with Mom, after Papa’s passing. His death makes us very sad, but we are trying to honour him by remembering him in a cheerful way - the way that we believe he would like us to. 

So we are travelling around Jelenia Gora, Karpacz and parts of northern parts of the Czech Republic, as well as eastern Germany. We visit places that he enjoyed himself and he always wanted to go. 

I am writing this post from Karpacz - a beautiful spa town in Silesia region. Tomorrow, we are off to visit Dresden in Germany, where we will try visiting the town’s Christmas market. 

Hope you are all doing well!

It is cold, it is white. Must be Poland during winter


It was not a planned trip, but here I am in Poland, on the way to see my mother and on the way to pay my tribute to my father, who passed away 5 days ago. 

Feeling incredibly sad to be travelling home and to know that I will not meet this man, that we are not going to crack a joke together, or get frustrated at the politicians. Feeling sad that I will not hear from him that he was proud of my work, and what I do. 

Than I also feel a sense of a relief. Last few weeks he suffered tremendously. The cancer indeed conquered his whole body, and it was very painful to see him suffer so much, knowing that we could not do much. It is good that he does not need to feel pain anymore. 

Finally, I am excited to be able to see Mum and spend time with her, and make sure that she remembers that I love her beyond reasonable and beyond words!

Life is good. It is sad at times, but life is good!

Farewell to Papa Maciek


We have been dreading this moment for a long time. Now, you are gone. It feels numb, the pain is everywhere, but there is also a sense of relief - relief that you are not in pain anymore, that you are not suffering.

Thank you for being my Dad. The man, who has cared for me, who looked after me, who believed in me - always. Thank you for being a part of my life, for your kindness and for your amazing sense of humour. I will always miss you, I will always love you - in my own and my special way. Rest in Peace my dear Papa Maciek!

The Rohingya repatriation deal is worrying


The world is focusing on the deal that has been reached between Myanmar and Bangladesh on repatriation of the Rohingya refugees from the Province of Chittagong (Bangladesh) to Rakhine State (Myanmar).

While there is no doubt that the refugees should be allowed to go back and live peacefully in places that they love and cherish, like many humanitarians working on both sides of the border, I worry. I worry a lot, and here is why:

Given the unspeakable violations of basic human rights that were committed in Myanmar, it goes without saying that most of us simply do not trust the intentions of the authorities of Myanmar. We just do not understand, what has changed that people who have been so badly treated by its own government will all of the sudden be welcome with open arms? Call me over-suspicious, but this worries me a lot. 

All repatriation process should be voluntary, safe, dignified, and people should be allowed to go to the places of origin. While the parties to the agreement (Myanmar and Bangladesh) state that this is going to be a case, there is no details on what will be done to ensure that the process is just that. A lot of us know that refugees are not willing to go back, as long as Myanmar would not grant them a right to unconditional citizenship, and would allow the community to refer to themselves as ‘Rohingya’. By any stretch of imagination, this is not going to happen. What will happen then? Will Bangladesh be forcing people to go against their will and fear of further prosecutions in Myanmar?

I even do not know where to start when it comes to issues of safety and dignity. It is just inconceivable how these would be assured with the level of hatred and condemnation that the Rohingya suffer in Myanmar. Our worries are even greater, given that no international agencies such as UNHCR (responsible for issues relating to refugees well-being) are allowed to participate in the process. Are the intentions of the parties to the agreement really genuine? If so, why not allowing the scrutiny of the international body that could oversee the process?

The deal has a potential backlash to the well-being of those who may not be repatriated for whatever reason. Will the authorities allow for delivering aid to NGOs and the UN agencies to people who would choose not to go, or will the refugees be ‘punished’ by being left without assistance, if they do not cooperate. 

Finally, given that the deal is between the two countries and does not involve the international community, I wonder where the resources for the dignified repatriation will come from. Who will pay for the transportation, who will provide for food and water to those travelling. Where would the funds come from for rebuilding the burnt houses and infrastructure, who would pay for helping people to rebuild their livelihoods and businesses? Who will look after the orphaned children, old or disabled? For the return to be safe and dignified, we need to think about this. 

All in all… I am not optimistic, and I worry that once again, the politicians play with lives of those who are the weakest and defenceless. I wished that the future proved me wrong though!

Mission complete


It is time to go back to Bangkok. After 2 weeks of a hectic programme, my mission to support the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh is coming to its end (some pictures from this experience can be found here). Leaving Bangladesh will bring new challenges. With the most recent volcano eruption in Bali of Indonesia, and abuses of rights of refugees in South East Asian countries, I am surely to be busy.

After a week spent in Bangkok, I will be travelling to Portugal for a quick visit home in Obidos. While, I will need to be involved in some administrative work, I am looking forward to chill out for a bit. 

Together with Tahir, we are getting excited, as December is likely to be marked with a visit of 2 of his Canadian resettlement sponsors. I think, it is so great to know that he will have a chance to get to know and interact a bit more with people that will support him, when he finally reaches Toronto. 

Finally, I will also be travelling to Myanmar in December too. Clearly, the visit is related to the Rohingya crisis too. 

It appears, December we will not slow down in December!

Happy Birthday Mama!


Dzisiaj są Twoje urodziny Mamo!

Dziękuję, że jesteś tą najwspanialszą kobietą, która zawsze mnie wspiera i kocha… Bezwarunkowo!

Wspaniałych urodzin! Spełenienia marzeń! Serdeczności!

It is Mum’s birthday today! 

Thank you for being this wonderful woman, who always and unconditionally loves and supports me. 

May you have the most wonderful day! May your dreams come true! Happy Birthday!

Visit of the EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini


Photo credit: Dhaka Tribune

Rather unexpectedly, we are preparing for a visit of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini. She will be coming to Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar to visit the Rohingya refugees. The visit is to boost the international awareness of the problem of these particular group of refugees and ensure her support in trying finding a long term solution that would work for the people. 

As you can imagine, we are all very busy preparing the visit. I will be travelling to Cox’s Bazar myself to offer any support that the visit will require. Of course, this will be done with the rest of the team that I work with. 

I really hope that the visit will spark some additional attention and will help us in the response to the crisis. I shall definitely inform you how we have managed. In the meanwhile more on the visit can be found at this link

December break


Photo credit:

I still have plenty of holidays to take this year. Although, I am rather busy with work, it is rather nice to start planning. So I have just booked my tickets to Portugal. A week in Lisbon, Obidos and surroundings should be fun. On the way to Portugal I will have a day stop over in Helsinki (will meet up with a friend), and on the way back to Bangkok will stop in Warsaw too. Look forward to it. 

Right after Christmas, I will have more holidays to be taken. The plan is that the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018 will be together with Tahir and other friends based in Thailand. Isn’t it nice to plan your breaks?

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