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

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Discouraged and disheartened by Poland

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Some of you must have noticed how critical I have been of my own country for quite some time. It is hard to be so, as naturally Poland has been home for me for all these years. It is the place where I was born, the place whose culture influenced me, it is the place of wonderful sites and breathtaking nature. Finally I own to Poland so much. I owe to that country my education and that fact that I am still alive, as the Polish doctors made miracles to help me overcome my multiple illnesses. Finally, it is the place where my family and friends live, and after all, it is the place, which I used to call home… 

Despite all of this, we have been drifting apart. Although it is not just a matter of last few months or year, the recent developments in Poland have pushed my levels of acceptance of xenophobia to the limits. Month by month, I hear the speech of hatred towards foreigners, gay, non-Catholics, non-Whites coming not only from common people, but from Catholic Church leaders and politicians holding the most prominent functions in the country. I hear claims of Poland’s superiority over the others. I see the growing acceptance to organisations promoting the White Supremacy. This makes me sad and scared. What I find the worse is that our Prime Minister, our President, various ministers of our government keep on verbally attacking and demonising all sorts of minorities, and keep on blaming them for all evil imaginable. This has hurt meand has made me feel uncomfortable. Week by week, month by month my passion for Poland has been evaporating. I have tried ‘fighting’ these negative feelings, I have tried challenging myself, tried explaining to myself that ‘I am biased’ and that ‘perhaps I exaggerate’.

Then a day before yesterday, Manchester happened. Sad and tragic event for all of us in the world. And as so many people try to calm the emotions down, try coming to terms and heal, our Prime Minister unequivocally points her finger at refugees: suggesting that opening your hearts to misery of victims of wars equals weak character and is an invitation to terror. 

I appreciate the fears, I appreciate a fact that governments have responsibility to keep us as safe, but I can’t accept victimisation of the most vulnerable and the defenceless. I despite lack of courage to show leadership and solidarity with those who need to be helped. We have responsibilities to fight terror, but we can not fight terror by imposing terror onto others. 

The speech of our PM has completely broke me. It broke me beyond repair. However little pride that I had left in me for being Polish was taken away from me yesterday. 24th May 2017 changed me, it made me lose any sympathy for Poland, it made me lose my willingness to give this country another try. Yesterday, the words of my PM made me feel unwelcome and unwanted by my own country. 

It hurt, but it made me feel better too. Understanding that Poland is not a place for me, made me feel liberated to some extent. I thought that it was better for me, and for the people that I so much disagree with to part and try finding peace away from one another. 

Many of my family and my friends will remain in Poland and I will surely be visiting them so I can cherish their lives. I may even be forced to return to Poland, as I will not be able to arrange my home elsewhere. It may well be, but Poland will never feel home again. 

While I wish all the best to the country that offered me opportunities, that looked after me, that helped me grow, it is time to say good bye. 

It is time to try doing whatever it takes to start arranging a new place. Surely, it will not be easy and perhaps it will not be possible, but  I am determined to succeed. I have now decided to become a voluntary refugee and wii try making some foreign land to becoming my home. I hope to find peace somewhere and I hope that Poland will be prosperous and successful too. 


Back to Bangkok

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My longer deployment in Bangladesh is coming to its end. I have just returned to Bangkok, and resuming my previous responsibilities, e.g.: following on the humanitarian situation in South East and South Asian countries, rather than Bangladesh only. I will still be travelling to Dhaka from time to time, but for shorter period, and supporting our local team there, rather than heading the office of Bangladesh. 

It is good to be back home here in Bangkok and reconnect with Tahir. Lots of exciting prospects with his educations are coming up, and it will be nice to be able to participate in these in one or another way. 

At the end of the week, I am travelling to Europe again. I will spend a week in Belgium (for work) and then 6 days in Poland, where I will be visiting my family. As my dad is now in hospital, I am especially looking forward to seeing him soon!

Not a good beginning of May

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May 2017 is not bringing great news, so far. Dad is really sick. His cancer seems to be back, and the prognosis is not that optimistic at all. 

The house that we were interested in Portugal was bought by another person, we have just learnt. Shame, as I was so eager and excited about it. Now, we are going to be pursuing a possibility of buying the second choice house. Still in Obidos, still wonderful, but clearly not as wonderful as the first one!

Poland does not fail depressing me. Recent celebrations of national constitution just mercilessly expose that nationalism and xenophobia are strong in the country. This places scares me, and disappoints me. I feel hurt by my own country.

I am clearly sad today.

In Bangladesh again!

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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.

Packing for Lisbon!

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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!

A lesson from Bangladesh to Europe

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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!


Choosing properties in Portugal

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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.

Health concerns in refugee camps

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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!


January in Bangkok

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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. 


Bangkok’s charms

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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


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