The Blog

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


IMG_0773


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

IMG_0775


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


IMG_3026


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


IMG_2188


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!


P1010014


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


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

A330-900neo_TAP_-800x415

Photo credit: www.runawaygirlnetwork.com

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?

Working for refugees

IMG_0688


For the next 2 weeks, I will be working supporting organisations providing life-saving and life-sustaining to the Rohingya refugees, who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar. You may have heard or read from the media that the humanitarian crisis continues, as around 1,000,000 fled the borders of Myanmar in search of safety. 

I am likely to be travelling to Cox’s Bazar soon, and once there, I will be able to have some first hand experience on challenges that need to be met by all of us to make sure that people have basics to survive and live in dignity. 

Before I report further, I encourage you to spare a moment and read a little on the Rohingya crisis. There are plenty of resources available online. 

A week in Sri Lanka and plans until the end of the year

IMG_2735


The week in Sri Lanka went really fast. The Civil Military Coordination in Humanitarian Response training was phenomenal. Enjoyed the interaction with the civilian staff and the military service people on how they say their role in providing aid to people under humanitarian emergency. The course was very well conducted and inspirational. You can read more about it in my previous post here

As my visit to Sri Lanka coincided with my birthday, I decided to treat myself and take a weekend off sightseeing Colombo and some costal villages south of the capital. It was the best thing I could have done… The country is magnificent, nothing short from being breathtaking, and the Sri Lankan people are just wonderfully nice. If you ever have a chance to visit the place, do go! Should you wish to see some pictures from the visit, you may do so under this link

When in Sri Lanka, we got some good news from the Canadian authorities on Tahir. We received the confirmation that his application has officially entered the vetting process and is now under consideration of the Canadian High Commission in Singapore. While it is difficult to judge how much time it will take to process it, my guess is that we should hear an official answer on whether Tahir will be resettled to Canada or not within next 10 months. Seems long, but when you take things in perspective, it is an exciting development. 

The end of the year will surely be busy. In two days, I will be travelling to Dhaka in Bangladesh, and then will also likely to spend some time in December in Myanmar. Both of the visits relate to the Rohingya crisis. I also plan to take my remaining 10 days of holidays before the end of the year, and if this works, there are some potentially nice plans ahead… May go to Portugal again, but also will spend some time in Thailand travelling around the country with Tahir. Some of Tahir’s sponsors from Canada are likely to visit Bangkok too, which will give us a chance to spend sometime together!

I am guessing that my next post will be from Bangladesh. Until that happens, stay well wherever you may be in the world!


Roman’s Pages ® 2001 - 2017