News from Roman |

Updates and news

Visiting Japan

Pasted Graphic
Our first trip to Japan (AI generated image)

After much deliberation, I've finally confirmed my holiday plans. I'll be heading to Poland this May to meet up with my Mum in Nowy Sacz. With spring in full swing and ideal travel conditions, we've crafted an exhilarating itinerary: a 9-day trip to Japan! This will be my inaugural visit to this captivating Asian nation, and I'm thrilled to explore it alongside my Mum. While in Japan, we plan to immerse ourselves in Tokyo's vibrant culture and venture beyond the city to iconic spots like Mt. Fuji and possibly Kobe.

Following our Japanese adventure, I'll be soaking up the sights and sounds of southern Poland before returning to Caracas in June. On my journey back to Venezuela from Poland, I'll make a 2-day stopover in Istanbul, courtesy of Turkish Airlines, to marvel at the city's enchanting beauty.

It seems that May and June are shaping up to be months brimming with excitement. Needless to say, I'm eagerly counting down the days!

Caracas, my favourite city in America

Centre of Caracas, Venezuela, January 2024

You might recall that I have a deep fondness for Caracas. It's not only my favourite city in the Americas but also ranks among my top global favourites. I cherish Caracas for its rich history, captivating architecture, breathtaking natural beauty, and most importantly, its people: the Caraqueños.

To give you a glimpse into my perspective on Caracas, I've penned this brief guide to the city!

Hope you will find it interesting, and that I will tempt you to visit me here!

Exploring the Enchanting Charms of Caracas: 'Roman's take on the city'

Nestled in the heart of Venezuela, Caracas stands as a city with a rich tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty. Despite its tumultuous reputation, Caracas offers visitors a plethora of experiences that capture the soul of this vibrant South American metropolis. From its bustling streets to its verdant parks, here's a guide to uncovering the hidden charms of Caracas.

Plaza Bolívar: Where History Comes Alive

No visit to Caracas is complete without a stroll through
Plaza Bolívar, the beating heart of the city. Named after the revered Venezuelan liberator, Simón Bolívar, this expansive square is surrounded by some of the city's most iconic landmarks, including the majestic Cathedral of Caracas and the historic Caracas City Hall. Immerse yourself in history as you wander among statues paying homage to Venezuela's heroes or simply relax on a bench and soak in the lively atmosphere of this central gathering place.

El Ávila National Park: Nature's Playground

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by venturing into the breathtaking
El Ávila National Park. Just a short drive from downtown Caracas, this sprawling natural reserve offers visitors a wealth of outdoor activities amidst stunning mountain scenery. Hike along winding trails that lead to panoramic viewpoints, or take a thrilling cable car ride to the summit of Cerro El Ávila for unparalleled vistas of the city below. Whether you're a nature enthusiast or simply seeking tranquility, El Ávila National Park is sure to captivate you.

La Candelaria: A Bohemian Paradise

Step back in time as you wander through the charming streets of La Candelaria, Caracas's oldest and most eclectic neighbourhood. Admire the colonial architecture adorned with colourful murals and intricate wrought-iron balconies, or browse through artisanal shops and quaint cafes that line the cobblestone streets. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the birthplace of Venezuela's most renowned artist, Francisco de Miranda, now transformed into a museum celebrating his life and legacy. Whether you're exploring its vibrant street art scene or sampling traditional Venezuelan delicacies, La Candelaria offers a glimpse into Caracas's cultural heritage.

Parque del Este: Oasis in the Urban Jungle

Experience a tranquil retreat amidst the urban sprawl at
Parque del Este, a verdant oasis nestled within the heart of Caracas. Spanning over 82 hectares, this sprawling park offers lush greenery, tranquil ponds, and meandering pathways ideal for leisurely strolls or picnics with family and friends. Take a moment to admire the park's iconic landmark, the monumental Tiuna Fountain, or marvel at the diverse array of flora and fauna that call this urban sanctuary home. Whether you're seeking respite from the city's chaos or simply looking to reconnect with nature, Parque del Este is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

Culinary Delights: A Gastronomic Journey

Indulge your senses in Caracas's vibrant culinary scene, where flavours from around the world converge to create a tantalising fusion of taste and tradition. From savoury arepas stuffed with tender shredded beef to decadent
cachitos filled with creamy cheese, Venezuelan cuisine offers a culinary journey like no other. Sample exotic fruits and freshly squeezed juices at bustling street markets, or savour gourmet creations at upscale restaurants showcasing the best of local and international fare. Whether you're a foodie or simply seeking to tantalise your taste buds, Caracas promises a gastronomic adventure you won't soon forget.

Discovering the Soul of Caracas

From its historic landmarks to its natural wonders, Caracas beckons visitors with its undeniable charm and allure. Despite its challenges, this vibrant city continues to captivate visitors with its rich cultural heritage, warm hospitality, and boundless spirit. Whether you're exploring its historic plazas, embarking on outdoor adventures, or savouring its culinary delights, Caracas invites to uncover the hidden gems that make it a truly unforgettable destination. So pack your bags, and prepare to be enchanted by the myriad charms of Venezuela's captivating capital.

A mesmerising walk

Centre of Caracas, Venezuela, March 2024

My plans for the Easter weekend initially were quite different. I intended to take a break and unwind, especially after my travels to Washington DC and Brussels had left me feeling exhausted. However, reality had other plans for me. The workload I had accumulated meant that traveling was out of the question; instead, I found myself needing to stay put in Caracas and focus on work.
Despite this unexpected turn of events, the weekend wasn't all bad. Much of the work I tackled was engaging and fulfilling. Plus, I managed to explore the city a bit. Saturday turned out to be particularly memorable. I found myself wandering around Plaza Bolivar and then venturing into the smaller streets leading up to the National Pantheon. The stroll was enchanting, making me feel as though I had stepped into a fairy tale. I was captivated by the charming albeit worn-down buildings, ancient trees, children playing soccer, elderly men engaged in chess matches, a barber setting up his makeshift 'shop' complete with a small mirror and chair tucked under a walkway, spice shops, and the mesmerising glow of the Caribbean sun. It was a simple walk, yet it filled me with joy and temporarily lifted the weight of looming deadlines off my shoulders.
If you're interested in viewing photos from my walk, you can find them in this album: Scroll down to see the pictures towards the bottom of the album).

Reflections on my recent trip to Europe

Centre of Brussels, Belgium, March 2024

I've recently returned to Caracas after a week-long trip to Europe. As you may recall, I attended the European Humanitarian Forum (EHF) and also had meetings at my headquarters.
Despite the somewhat
gloomy conversations and conclusions at the EHF, I found the meetings at my office to be constructive and uplifting. Unlike some previous HQ gatherings, there was a sense of optimism about our work and the near-term future. While we certainly face challenges—particularly concerning our inadequate budgets to address urgent humanitarian needs globally—people are displaying positivity and innovation in operating with limited resources amid vast needs.
I was delighted to reconnect with many friends and colleagues at the meetings, some of whom I hadn't seen in years. It was wonderful to catch up and spend quality time together.
Over the weekend, I managed to squeeze in two short day trips—to Luxembourg and Lille. As someone who enjoys city breaks, I was thrilled to explore a bit more.
If you're interested,
here's a link to the photo album from my trip.
Looking ahead, I'll be working in Caracas for the next few weeks, focusing on advancing our humanitarian budget programming and tackling numerous work-related challenges. Hopefully, I'll be able to plan some personal time off soon. I believe it's high time I visit Mum in Poland and catch up with Amna and Tahir in Canada.

European Humanitarian Forum

Centre of Brussels, Belgium, January 2023

I am getting ready to go to the airport and travel to Brussels. Next week, I will be participating in the European Humanitarian Forum (EHF) and then will continue with my organisation's conference for the head of offices (HoO) from around the world.

The EHF will gather humanitarian practitioners and political leaders, as well as academics discussing on how we bridge ever going humanitarian needs with little resources. Clearly, given my job, I will be advocating for the needs in Venezuela, but I am very interested to hear and learn on management of migration crises around the world. As the world, we are shamefully falling behind looking after the most vulnerable people, and as such any ideas on how make things at least a little better are worth considering.

During the HoO meeting, we will be focusing on challenges and standards and peculiarities related to work of ECHO (my own organisation). While it is going to be super busy, I am actually looking forward to be meeting my colleagues and friends whom I have not seen for a long time!

News from Washington DC

The US Capitol, Washington DC, USA, March 2024

This time around, I am writing from my hotel room in Washington DC. It is raining, and grey, but I am enjoying the weather a lot. It reminds me of Europe, and I have missed the atmosphere that this kind of weather brings. One cannot experience it in the tropics of Venezuela where I am based now.

As you may remember, I am here in the US for professional meetings. While I was quite busy during most of yesterday and day before yesterday, I had a good chance to have some feeling of the city, as I decided to walk walk between my hotel and meetings' venues rather than using a public transportation.

I am surprised by the US capital. I imagined the city with lots of skyscrapers that you see in most of the US cities, but I am learning that they are not allowed here. Consequently, the buildings are not high. Some of them are still huge, but not too high, which makes the city look attractive, I think.

Today is my day off, as it is Saturday, so I will take a chance to explore the city more properly. I am determined to do so despite the rain… Forecasts say that it should stop raining in the afternoon, so perhaps I will not get too wet.

I am leaving for Panama City tomorrow. I am having meetings in my regional office on Monday, and I am then back to Caracas on Tuesday evening.

In the middle of March, I will be in Brussels (for work), so as yo can see, I can't complain of being bored.

And if you are curious to look at some of the pictures from Washington DC and Panama City,
you are welcome to visit this link.

A busy Carnival

Las Mercedes, Caracas, Venezuela, February 2024

It is a very busy February here, and I am spending a long Carnival weekend in front of my computer working, rather than celebrating and dancing away on the beach, as many residents of Caracas do. No complaints though! Things are good and interesting despite needing to read dozens of various project proposals that our partners are sending to us for our consideration. I find studying project proposals to be educational most of the time. You are actually forced to have time and read in details all sorts of analyses and arguments which at the end of the day allow you for having a broader understanding of the environment you work in. So as I said, no complaints, it is an inspirational task that I am undergoing.

Last week was stressful. I was in a hospital doing my regular medical check-up. It involved a colonoscopy. Although, I did not find the procedure troublesome, I was a bit worried about the results. Luckily, all seemed to be fine, and the doctor commanded me on my efforts of doing regular check-ups. I guess, I would only voice her to all of you. Please go and make sure that you do your preventive/screening health procedures, even if scary sometimes! By the way, I was so impressed with the service that I received here at the Santa Paula Clinic of Caracas. Very friendly and professional team, for which I am very grateful!

I have already got my tickets for the conference in
Washington DC bought. Now, it is time for actual preparations so that the trip is as useful as possible. I am going to be having a series of meetings with various organisations this and next week, so that I get a full picture of what to expect and this should help me prepare better for my own advocacy messages.

While I know the US a little, it will be my first trip to Washington DC. I will not have lots of time, but should manage some free hours for exploring the city. I wonder what advice you would have for me regarding what is worth seeing, except the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument?

Obviously, I will be reporting back to you from the US trip in my posts and this should include a new photo gallery as well. Stay tuned, if interested!

Working for Venezuela

One of the murals on the streets of Caracas, Venezuela, January 2024

My short break in Cartagena de Indias of Colombia was splendid. One week of exploration of the city's wonderful architecture and the nature around was perfect and enjoyable. Except the unbearable heat, it was a perfect city break: a good balance of culture, nature and good cuisine.

February, perhaps will be less exciting when it comes to travelling and getting to know new places, however it will be a very busy month. We are now receiving our partners' proposals for humanitarian projects to be implemented across the country. We will be trying to read all of them and make rational decisions whether we should engage with them or not, and negotiate possible adjustments. Reviewing a large number of proposals is a difficult and tiring job, but then it is also challenging, as it gives you a chance to reflect on needs, our own capacities to respond and push for better organisation and coordination so that the resources are used as efficiently as possible so that more people can benefit from the outcomes of the projects.

Last days of February, March and April however will be filled with travels. Although, this is not yet certain, at the very beginning of it, I may be travelling to Washington D.C. for the meetings in the World Bank on the occasion of the
Fragility Forum 2024 conference, where we are planning to discuss our work and needs of communities in Venezuela. Some weeks later, I will be heading to the European Humanitarian Forum in Brussels, where we will also have a chance to discuss, among other issues, our work in Venezuela and Colombia.

If all goes according to plans, I will then be taking holidays in April. The idea is first to visit family and friends in Toronto, and then head to see Mum and family in Nowy Sacz.

I hope to see some of you around, either here in Venezuela, or while travelling!