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Being exhausted

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I do not remember when I felt so physically exhausted, as I am feeling now. The trip to the Pacific took lots of my energy as it was a very hectic and busy experience.  Returning to Thailand - the time zone that is 6 hours behind did not help either. I feel sleepy and tired! The good news is that we have got a long weekend here starting tomorrow, and I will be able to rest a little. The plan is to drive north to the ancient city of Sukhothai, and stay there for three nights, enjoying sights and doing pretty much nothing - as much as only possible. I love travelling to places with historic buildings, so I am sure that a place that appears on the UNESCO Heritage should make me happy! 

After returning from the north, I will have a busy week. Monday and Tuesday in Bangkok, finalising technical details of my trip to the Pacific, and then on Wednesday off to Jakarta of Indonesia, where I will be working on issues relating to urban refugees in South East Asian countries, and participate in talks with colleagues from International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) on humanitarian access across countries in Asia. Very interesting and important, given that more often than not it is difficult to reach people in humanitarian distress. Lack of access often relates to physical obstacles (blocked roads, lack of transport, etc.), but also to lack of willingness from authorities to allow humanitarians witness the suffering of the residents they are in charge of. We will be discussing how to go about such obstacles in an effective and safe way. 

We do have some more progress on Tahir’s application to move to Canada. When I was in the Pacific, he was invited to collect his biometric data, so that he could later be issued travel documents: one more step towards the end of the process!

On the way back home!

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After a week’s long mission to Fiji and Tonga, finally on the way back to Bangkok. Writing this post from Sydney, where I have around 20 hours layover. Just about to have my breakfast, and then will go to explore the city a bit. Then taking a flight to Bangkok in the afternoon. I will write an account on my visit to the Pacific, once reaching Thailand. 

In the meanwhile, greetings to everyone!

Fiji and Tonga

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A devastating Cyclone Gita is ravaging island nations of Tonga and Fiji, as I write this. While we do not have much news on the humanitarian situation yet, it is clear that the situation is likely to be dire. 

In order to seed up the humanitarian response to anticipated needs that people of Tonga and Fiji may have, I am set to travel first to Suva and then to Nuku’alofa tomorrow. 

I am likely to be in the Pacific for around 10 days. I will therefore not be going to Mongolia for a time being. 

Depending on my access to the Internet, I will be reporting my whereabouts and experiences, as the mission goes on.

A waiting game continues

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Tahir’s interview with the Canadian Embassy is done, and now we are waiting for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to get in touch with him and invite him for the medicals. We hope it will not take too long, but there is no indications on when we should expect it. All this waiting gives me a major stress. Even though I am aware that his case appears to be optimistic, I would really like it to be over, the soonest possible. Tahir’s life has been in a mess for so many years, and he deserves that things will turn around and that he would be able to become more independent, and in charge of his own destiny, rather than needing to make compromises that limit his aspirations. Tahir is okay here in Thailand, and there is nothing that he misses, when it comes to daily, basic needs. However, this being written, his situation does not allow him to develop his professional skills, or to fully follow his dreams. In a way, he lives in a golden cage, where he survives comfortably, but is not fully in charge of his destiny. This is not an easy situation to be with for anyone. Yes, I know that many people - also here in Bangkok, including his own community, are in a much worse situation. Nevertheless, I dream for the day to come, however selfish it sounds, when he is granted his right to settle in Canada and his refugee ordeal is over. I will miss him terribly, but will also be the happiest person on earth to see him taking the plane destined to Toronto.

The other day, I was thinking about his potential prospects in Canada. If he makes it there, it will surely be exciting, but also difficult. Settling in a new country is always complex. Surely, there will be lots of exciting experiences: learning new culture, meeting new friends, getting to know his new country. But then, there will be frustrations too: needing to catch up on so many levels, needing to make decisions on how involved he wants to be with his community versus embracing and opening to people from other communities and cultures, dealing with loneliness and homesickness. There may be financial worries, and many other challenges, Despite all these, I hope that he will be allowed to go trough all these exciting and frustrating stuff, free from a fear of hatred for whom he is, or he is not, not needing to worry about not being considered ‘legal’. He deserves it this privilege the same way that all the other human beings do.

So the waiting game continues, while we keep our hopes for his future high. 

On another note, I am preparing for my work related travel to Mongolia. I will be travelling to Ulaanbaatar, and then to the eastern part of the country next Sunday. While in Mongolia, we will be looking at the impact of the project that we support and that is meant to help the nomadic communities of herders to better cope with severe winter weather hazards (known as dzud). 

A fun weekend in Ko Si Chang

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Ko Si Chang is a small and rather unknown island, off the coast in eastern Thailand (near the city of Chon Buri). Despite its beautiful nature, it is hardly known to tourists. I am suspecting that the main reason being that the island is not home to a noisy nightlife. There are no bars there, and not many restaurants. Yet, one can find pretty much everything one needs for a comfortable visit though. The guesthouses are clean and cute, and have wonderful views (especially the ones on the western side of the island), there is plenty of seafood. Some pictures from the trip are available in the gallery under this link

I really needed some time in the island, so that I could think of plans for next few months. Tahir’s potential prospects of resettlement will bring lots of work in coming weeks, some stress, lots of changes, and hopefully lots of joy at the end. We need to prepare for all of this really well. 

The beginning of the year brought us some changes into our work too, so I was strategising my work priorities too. I will now be focusing less on particular countries, but then will get involved in policy and advocacy work that will involve the whole region of South Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific. Much of my work will go to issues around forced displacement, refugee movements, and disaster risk reduction and response to disasters. Serenity of Ko Si Chang was somehow helpful to look at all the challenges with some peace of mind, and allowed to re-charge the batteries.

Now, it is time to start preparing my next professional mission, which is likely to be Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia!


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