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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.

Archives (31st December 2015): Happy New Year!

And here comes the New Year’s Greetings:

Dearest Friends,

You know me well: I tend to be over-sentimental, and I would not miss a chance for some reflections to mark the end of the year. Given that 2016 is just around the corner, here comes one of my updates and my greeting for New Year.

I have now worked in our Bangkok office of 13 months. As my job covers many countries in Southeast Asia, I travel frequently. This is certainly exciting and very interesting. However one looks at it, visiting places such as Mongolia, the Philippines Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar or DPRK is an exciting affair and I feel very excited to be able to travel. This make me happy! 2015 also marked some major challenge. For me it was a time of re-adapting and re-learning how to live and work in a place that is not ravaged by wars. It is perhaps a strange thing to write but transformation from living in a conflict torn South Sudan to life in a far more peaceful part of the world has had lots of downs. Adjusting to different lifestyles, ways of working, different values of people around me frustrates me, and makes me miss certain simplicity when one can encounter in troubles places such as South Sudan. Yet, I would like, if I wrote that there was nothing that I enjoyed about living in Bangkok. Being able to move around the city freely, without thinking that one can be shot at; not needing to follow the latest developments from the frontline; not being confronted with the most inhumane aspects of wars, e.g. not needing to learn about civilians being slaughtered, children being orphaned, women being raped, not seeing yet another corpse and yet another mass grave help me regaining some distance to these horrific experiences that I kept of witnessing a little over one year ago. Being able to go to a park, or a cinema, or for a walk, or to a beautiful temple, or take my Spanish lesson (here a big thank you to my Mexican teacher: Carlos) is something that I appreciate and cherish.

2015 is also definitely marked by learning about lives of many refugees. Here, I am not only writing about my professional experiences, but above all my personal ones. Most of you are, by now, aware that since November 2014, I have tried supporting Tahir, and some other people from the Ahmadyyia community, who ended up here in Thailand. I am not going to write about the injustice that these people went through in Pakistan and going through in Thailand (I have written about it so many times), but more egocentrically, about how the experience of trying to work something out for them affects me. Here, again very mixed feelings.

On one side, my new refugee friends make me feel happy. It just feels so great to be allowed into their world, and trying together to work some solutions out, which may be helpful for them in their daily struggles. It also feels fantastic that they so eagerly keep on helping me when I need them. Not being able to perform certain physical activities, they are always ready to come and carry my heavy bags, help me in fixing stuff in my flat, cook wonderful Pakistan food… all done in a way that I feel no any discomfort for asking for such assistance. Wonderful and generous friends! Then, there is frustration, frustration of not being able to find a long term meaningful solution for them. The heartless system created by the international community, UN, NGOs, governments of various countries that condemns these people in living in destitution and poverty… no matter how much you try, how genuine their cases may be, no matter how sweet and honest these people can be… their fate is doomed, doomed for years if not for ever: they can not return home, as they will be persecuted there; they can not function in Thailand normally, as they are hated here; and they have little (if at all) chance to be resettled anywhere else, as no one wants them (best excuse is: ‘We are now taking the Syrians, your suffering is not our priority)! Being from Poland, my biggest disappointment comes with my own country. After writing countless emails and letters to the President of Poland, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Embassy of Poland to Thailand, NGOs, Catholic Church institutions, various foundations… the answer is more or less the same: GO TO HELL. Believe me, this is not an exaggeration, the letters I am getting may be somehow more sophisticated but the answer is always clear: we are unwilling to help, even if you cover all the costs, and even if you decide to pay for everything… we do not want to have any Muslim refugees in this country, however genuine their case may be. Yes, I am aware that this is not just Poland, this happens in so many other places too, but knowing this does not make me happier, nor more optimistic. I am bitter, and I am deeply disappointed with my own government (yes: the one before the election, and the present one), with the Catholic Church in Poland (which sends in some most disturbing answers) and with private foundations. No one seem to want to care or even take an effort to look into options. Now, when one realises that Tahir and other Ahmadi friends here in Bangkok, can be considered as lucky, as their basic needs are covered (at least for as long as we can try supporting them), and that there are thousands in Thailand in millions in the world that find themselves in a much worse situation (without being able to afford food or accommodation), this gets even more discouraging.

Finally, a few words about happenings in my own country: Poland. I guess that we all have different needs in terms of feeling associated to a place. Even if I have not lived in Poland for a long time, I have always felt a connection with the place and considered it to be my base. With all of Poland’s ups and downs, with all of the country’s shortcomings, there have always been things that I was somehow proud of. I loved my countrymen sense of humour, this Slavic mess that somehow ends up in creativity. I love our music, our architecture, our nature, our language… All these things always made me forgive and defend what I considered as misgivings or shortcomings… I have always felt home in Poland, and until recently very eagerly kept on bringing dozens to see my Nowy Sacz, Krakow, Warsaw, the Tatras, the Baltic Sea… Last 2 years my admiration to Poland started crumbling. While I understand that life for many in that country is not easy, while many still struggle to meet ends; I find it extremely difficult to accept that our society’s response to these clear injustices is directed against… Well, I wonder against who and what… The list seems long and includes Russians, Germans, the West, Jews, Arabs, Muslims, gay, gender-ideology, feminism, climate change, critics of Poland (whoever they may be)… We do however seem to be having new heroes and start admiring new systems: Orban in Hungary, Chinese growth, Turkish autocracy… While of course, I am not in any position to judge people who want Poland to go that direction, I find it difficult to associate myself with these new qualities/ideas. Of course, there are various levels of dealing with such negative feelings. I think that one should not keep on feeling miserable and do nothing feeling really bad. And as I feel so unhappy about Poland these days (the final drop came with the recent presidential and parliamentary elections), I decided to make some changes. I also realise that one should also pick one’s challenges… As at this moment, I perceive that most of my countrymen have such a different vision of Poland from my own, I can see very little opportunities to reconcile. It is therefore that I decided to emigrate, and leave Poland… Consequently, I have taken steps to give up my Poland’s residency. I am not sure how things work out, but I have initiated a process of moving to Portugal, and if all goes well, I hope to become an official resident of that Mediterranean country in around March 2016. I feel a bit sad that this conclusion needed to come, but in the same time relieved that the decision is taken. Now, it is time to concentrate on starting making Portugal my new home. I have always had a soft spot for Portugal, and hope that it can become a great place to live!

It seems that 2016 will be another year full of challenges. Keeping myself busy with the job, carrying on with Spanish lessons, trying a nearly impossible task of finding a durable solution for Tahir (and possibly other Ahmadis), learning about my (hopefully) new home: Portugal (thus travelling there as often as I can).

Despite a fact that I will not be making celebrations tonight, and decided not to have any feast to bid a farewell to 2015, I genuinely feel optimistic about 2016! I also hope that you are going to have the most wonderful time ahead of you. Happy, happy 2016 for all of you, your friends, families and loved ones!

Warmest regards and lots of love,