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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 (30th May 2018): May newsletter

So here comes a copy of the newsletter, sent out to my friends:

'Dear Friends,

I hope that this email finds you well!

A few months have passed without news from here, so I thought that it was time for a short update from me.

I will start off from some potentially positive news. A little over a week ago, Tahir was approached by International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and invited to attend his medical check up, which took place a few days ago. A fact that IOM got in touch with him suggests that Tahir’s criminality and security checks (related to his resettlement to Canada) had been successful (Canada does not ask IOM to perform medical check-ups before these checks are completed successfully). Our understanding is that the medical check-up is the last step, before the final resettlement offer is given. Although, we have not secured the final resettlement decision yet, we are obviously very, very happy. If all goes according to plan, the Canadians should have all results of the medical tests around end of June (the medical procedures actually take time, as they involve obligatory vaccinations that are administered over the period of 4 weeks). After the receipt of the medical results, the Canadian authorities will need between 4 to 12 weeks to issue Tahir’s travel documents (assuming that he will have a positive decision). That means that we may see Tahir packing and travelling to Canada in August/September! ❤️❤️❤️ Please your fingers crossed that all goes well!

While we are optimistic about the resettlement progress, we are slightly worried about Tahir’s mum. She has been ill for some years, but recently her health deteriorated. We are not sure at this stage what the health issue is, but she stopped walking. Getting help that she needs is quite complicated. As you may remember Tahir’s family belongs to a Muslim religious minority that is called Ahmadyyia. Unfortunately, the Ahmadis are subjected to a severe persecution in Pakistan (very reason, why Tahir needed to flee the country), which manifests itself in various ways. Access to medical services (especially for a poor and illiterate woman, as Tahir’s mum is) is constrained too. Fear of not being accepted by the doctor, lack of money, physical distance to a decent health facility all contribute… This is why Tahir’s mum has never been able to visit a proper specialist and has not been diagnosed properly. However, like in many seemingly hopeless situations, there are amazing people that are willing to go an extra mile or two to help! Together with some wonderful friends, we started looking around to see how we could find someone try finding the sources of illness and suffering. The people that we connected with have been absolutely amazing and helped us find some of the best facilities in the province where Tahir’s mother lives. Not only this, we managed to find a doctor that has already called his mum and reassured her that she was going to be safe and comfortable with her. She also agreed to make all necessary tests without charging any consultation fees, and committed that she will try to be as helpful as she can be. Not only this, our Pakistani friends promised to help us in making all transfers of funds that may arise (there may be some expenses beyond the consultation fees) during the process! Clearly we are so grateful and happy to our friends (they know, who they are)… A BIG, BIG THANK YOU! Mum is scheduled to travel to hospital, most probably on Thursday. Please keep your fingers crossed that we figure our how to help her, and that we will be able to actually make Tahir’s mother a little bit better!

Professionally, I have been heavily involved in Bangladesh projects for quite some weeks. As you may know Bangladesh hosts nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, and is home to the largest refugee camp in the world (if you are not aware of it, please google up ‘Kutupalong mega-camp&rsquoWinking. Working on this crisis is a real emotional drain. The level of misery and suffering that the Rohingya and Bangladeshi host communities go through is so immense that is difficult to describe… Visiting the camps, reading about the challenges, and then trying doing something that would at least minimally eased the situation is a roller-coaster. One day you are happy with very small successes – that may be important at a given time, then next moment you get depressed when you realise that these small advances actually do not solve the overall situation and are not going to end the sources of the crisis. The humanitarians may be successful (to a smaller or bigger degree) in providing basic life sustaining services – or even successful in actual saving some lives, but we are absolutely not equipped in fixing the problem. It is the mighty and powerful world decision makers that need to make the change happen. Sadly today, in my mind, we do not see a lot of signs that the change will come, which means that the most likely scenario is that we will see the crisis continue for years to come.

Personally, I have restarted my Portuguese lessons. I have skype lessons with my new amazing teacher, who is based in Lisbon. I am enjoying them tremendously, and always look forward to them. The lessons are not only stimulating, but make me feel happy about having my little place in Portugal!

I am trying to plan some of my holiday movements for next months, but it proves to be challenging, as we still do not know when exactly Tahir may be able to travel Canada, and there are still quite lack of clarity over how much of my time I would need to invest in supporting our Bangladesh projects (which involves frequent trips there). I hope however that I will be able to travel to Europe (Poland and Portugal) sometime soonish! I guess that I would also travel to Tornonto too, so that I can make sure that we all welcome him in his new country, when the time is due!

I miss hearing from you! Please do forgive me not being in touch often enough. I guess my age is catching up with me, and I do get tired quicker than some years ago 😉.

Sending hugs to all of you! Roman (and Tahir says hello too)'