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'News from Roman' is a place where I write about events or experiences that are important to me for one or another reason. It is a space where family and friends can get themselves updated on my latest undertakings, and where occasional readers can learn about issues which are important to me.

Thailand is preparing for elections

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_11dd1Yesterday, I had one of the nicest walks in Bangkok. Together with a dear friend of mine, Clare, we decided to explore Bangkok's China Town. The weather was beautiful and the afternoon was not too hot. We ended up having the most wonderful time: admiring some of the funkiest streets of the city and having really good conversations; conversations that only good friends have. So we talked about things that made us happy, that made us anxious or uncomfortable. We talked about our work, about politics, about inequalities in the world… We also talked about love, friendship, family, about future and about dreams. What a wonderful afternoon!

Next week, Thailand is heading to parliamentary elections. While lots of Thai friends keep their cools and do not show lots of emotions over politics, I am extremely curious to see how things will play out for the country. In the meanwhile, for us, elections mean some practical restrictions. Although we are not expecting any disturabances, we are advised to keep our eyes and ears open and avoid crowds and trouble from potential political rallies. Interesting times in the country!

Talking of politics, we are all following the latest news from the United Kingdom, where the fate of Brexit is being decided in a 'soap opera'-like drama. If the issues were not so serious, probably I would have considered the UK politicians to be amusing… I hope all this will stop soon, and some decisions will be taken so that we can all carry on with lives.

I have already booked my tickets to travel to Portugal in April. Now making plans over my anticipated visit to Obidos and Lisbon. I am hoping that it will be a relatively quiet time, with lots of time for myself and for exploring the country!

The great news from Canada is that Tahir managed to get his driving tests passed. Now he is a proud owner of the provisional driving license and soon, he will be able to receive a full permit. I guess it will not surprise you if I write that Tahir is all over the moon from joy of his success.

Mourning colleagues, killed in ET 302 flight

RIPI am still trying to come to terms with the news from Ethiopia. You may have heard from the news that the Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed and killed all people onboard.

It is a tragedy for all the passengers: their families, loved ones and friends of those onboard. The unfortunate flight that went down yesterday, killed over 30 people working for humanitarian and development agencies (United Nations, Red Cross and NGOs). Throughout my career, I have worked and partnered with most, if not all of the affected agencies, and I feel extremely sorry and saddened by what has happened to my colleagues. I also feel distressed, as I used to take the ET302 flight between Ethiopia and Kenya myself frequently, when I was based in East Africa some years back. Realising how fragile our lives can be has sent cold shivering through my body.

May you all rest in peace and may your family and friends take comfort from the amazing work and service that you have provided to all of us, so that our world is a little bit better place to live. Thank you for your lives for your passion!

Back online after a longer break

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_11b29The trip to DPRK, or North Korea, as it is commonly referred to resulted with with a long break from posting here. The trip to Poungyang and other parts of the country was hectic, and left me with no opportunities to write. Then a fact that the access to the Internet in the country is severely restricted, did not help either.

Today, I just wanted to let you know that I am safely back to Thailand, and still processing my experiences from the country. I promise that sooner rather than later, I will write more about the trip. For now, those, who are interested,
may look at the pictures from the country that I posted online the other day.

After returning to Bangkok, I have tried deal with lots of practical professional and personal issues that have piled up, when I was away. So I am trying to prepare for my next professional trip, which will be to Indonesia (in 2 weeks) and then make arrangements for my holidays in Portugal (early April). Then also already preparing for my professional trip to Brussels and Austria that will take place in May. Finally, I have undertaken some first practical steps with regards to my moving to Panama City (identify website with real estate agents, got tips on which sites to refer to find out about practicalities relating to living in Panama), etc.

Then on a private note, I have started investigating more vigorously about studying opportunities that Tahir may be able to undertake in Canada. All keeps me very busy - but also content and happy.

So do stay tuned, as I will be reporting on newest developments soon!

Packing for an exciting trip to DPR of Korea

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_e05ePyongyang, City Centre; Picture taken in 2015

My visa for DPRK is finally in my passport, and I am ready to fly to Pyongyang tomorrow night. I am very excited to be visiting the country again. I went to DPRK, when I took my assignment in Thailand, and going there again, just before finishing… A nice way to say goodbye to Asia.

But when we are in DPRK, we will be travelling around the country and trying understand the humanitarian needs of the people following rather severe food deficits that are reported.

I guess, I will not be able to make updates when I am in DPRK, but I will happily update you on the experiences, as soon as I am back to Thailand.

Today, I spent most parts of the day flat searching for Panama. I have visited quite a few websites listing properties for rent. I was exploring various neighbourhoods. All places seem to have some advantages and some flaws… Obviously, it is difficult to make a judgment without knowledge of the country and thousands of kilometres away. Nevertheless, exploring the websites gave me some ideas what to expect and look for.

Hoping that you are all well, reading it. Please look after yourselves and I will be in touch in a little over a week, after returning from Korea.

Humanitarian missions and plans for coming weeks

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_11cbcBangkok's China Town

It took me a while to fight my jet-lag after a trip from Toronto to Bangkok via Warsaw and Singapore. Last week was painful. I was wide awake at nights, and very sleepy during days. Saturday that has just passed, allowed me to stabilise a bit and today, on Sunday, I am feeling I am back to my normal!

But tomorrow, I am already travelling for work to San Francisco in the Philippines (not the one in the USA), where together with my colleagues, we will be visiting some of the projects that my organisation supports (meant to prepare the communities to potential natural disasters). San Franciso is a town in southern island of Mindanao, not far from Davao. It will be my first time in that part of the island, which obviously is exciting. I am also very eager to learn about what actions our NGO partners undertake to help communities cope with disasters (which are so common in this part of the world). Working in Mindanao is ever more challenging, as communities are confronted with an ongoing conflict and security threats related to it. When dealing with preparedness to natural disasters, it is important to take into consideration conflict dynamics too. Conflicts make disaster risk reduction (DRR) complicated and difficult, but in the same time, much more rewarding, if successful.

Right after returning from the Philippines, I will be preparing to the trip to Pyongyang in DPR of Korea. It will be my second time in the country, and this time in the winter. Again, when in the country, we will be trying to work out how we can support the communities in their preparedness to disasters in the context the country. When in DPRK, I am hoping to travel out of the capital city as well. I am not likely to be very connected to the web, when I am there, so I will have a break from updating this page for sometime. When I am online again, I shall surely report on the trips and adventures!

In my last post, I told you that I would be moving to Panama in the middle of the year. As time passes by, I get really excited by it. Started doing my readings about the countries of the region (including Panama itself), and got my Spanish books out, so that I can start refreshing my language. Very exciting indeed. Before Panama becomes a reality, I hope that I will still have lots of adventures in Asia. I am holding my breath then!

Moving to Panama City in July 2019

Panama flag
It appears that I will be moving to Panama City in the middle of 2019. As of July I am meant to be taking over the responsibilities for following up on humanitarian emergencies in Latin America and Caribbean islands.

New responsibilities, new part of the world, new languages… I am very, very excited. And a bonus is that I will be close to Canada, meaning that it will be easier to visit Tahir!

More news to come soon! In the meanwhile, greetings to everyone!

Enjoying my time off

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_11c56Niagara Falls, Canada; Photo credit: Tahir Rana

It seems like I was barely taking a plane out of Bangkok to take me to Poland, and now, two weeks later, I am here in Canada, packing to start the journey back to Thailand.

Travelling with Mum around Ukraine, spending time with family in Krakow, and then touring Montreal and Toronto with Zosia (my niece) and Tahir have all been absolutely special and wonderful. We did have some unexpected adventures (we all got sick in Canada), but this did not stop us from having lots of fun and enjoy one another's company.
Here comes the link to the photo journal from the trip. Enjoy it!

It will be sad to be leaving Tahir behind tomorrow, but then, it is comforting to know that we should be able to see very soon again!

Pleasure of planning your travels

With less than a week until my departure for my next holidays, it is time to explore options of what to see and do, when touring Ukraine, Poland and Canada.

While I am excited about all of the places, planning of what to do in Kyiv is giving me particular pleasure. The trip to Ukraine, despite being Poland's neighbour, will be my first one to the country. I am lucky enough to have Ukrainian friends, and foreign colleagues, who happen to live in the country's capital. They have given me so many different suggestions of how to spend our time there (I will be travelling with Mum) that it is now clear, some really hard choices will need to come… We will have no time to see all.
Kyiv appears to be an amazingly interesting city with lots of beautiful architecture to see. Then, it is apparently also known for great restaurants, and fantastic culture. Kyiv's operas and operas are very well known in Europe and beyond.

Poland is slightly easier to plan, as I am familiar with the country. Mum and I will spend a day in Krakow on the way to Kyiv,
and we are planning to go to see an opera. While in Nowy Sacz (after Kyiv), I will just be enjoying friends, family and trying to visit some of my favourite spots in the mountains.

Then comes a week in Canada. While we have not decided yet, the odds are that I will not stay in Toronto all the time, but together with Tahir, we will travel to Quebec City,
which should be celebrating its annual Winter Carnival!

There is no doubt that planning your holidays can be as much fun as the actual trip! Can't wait anymore!