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A spring newsletter


Underneath is a copy of my regular newsletter that I tend to send you to friends and family:

Dear Friends,
It is time for a spring update! End of March, in Thailand, marks the return of extremely hot temperatures. After a short break of bearable weather, we are back to +36 degrees Celsius. Things will continue getting worse. The peak of hot weather is expected around 2
nd week of April, which will also mark arrival of Songkran (Thai New Year). This Songkran will be my last one in the country, while at this deployment. Over 4 years of my service in ECHO for Southeast Asia is coming to its end, as I am now preparing for taking up my new post in Panama (still with ECHO), where I should be arriving at the beginning of August 2019.
The news of my new job in Panama is a source of major excitement in my recent weeks. As my offer seems to be now, confirmed, I am busy reading all sorts of resources about the country and the region. I know little about Central and South America, and the same goes about Caribbean, so I have got plenty to learn. Learning and stepping outside of the comfort zones are exciting experiences though, so I am very positive about the coming change, even if I am also going to be sad about leaving Asia and the Pacific region for now.
My new job in Panama will, to a large extent, be similar to what I am doing now – meaning that I will be based in Panama City, but working on responses to disasters and humanitarian issues in South/Central America and Caribbean islands. I am therefore likely to be travelling around the region, and as here in Thailand, it is likely that my lifestyle will strongly be influenced by unexpected disasters and humanitarian shocks. Then, of course, I am sure that somehow my work will be influenced by ongoing crisis in Venezuela and uncertainties of countries, such as Nicaragua. Surely, I will not be bored. What is really exciting is that I will be working mainly in Spanish (and English) and occasionally, I may even be able to use Portuguese (if/when dealing with Brazil). Although I have experience in working in Portuguese language (Angola and Mozambique) it will be the first time that I will need to work in Spanish! I am not too worried about the language though. Some of you may remember that I had intensive courses of Spanish over a period of 2 years here in Thailand and I feel confident enough to take the challenge. I hope within 2, 3 months, the language will become fluent. Talking of Spanish lessons, I am lucky enough to have found a wonderful Colombian teacher here in Bangkok. We now, are taking 2 lessons a week, so that I can practise speaking – rather than preparing for examinations (which I did previously). Very exciting!
Thinking of Panama, makes me think of my time in Asia too. It has been such an intense an amazing time – both personally and professionally. Most of you are aware of all the joys and stresses, as I keep on updating you about my experiences often… Before I leave Bangkok, there will be time for another message, where I reflect on these properly, but all these thoughts are in my mind now, and make me evaluate things that I have been successful with and things that I have failed in. What is certain, beyond doubt is that I have met many wonderful new people, and continued having support from so many other ‘old’ friends. When I think of it, it is the people that are close to me have made the experience of Asia to be so very special. Of course, the wealth of culture, architecture, music, food in Asia and the Pacific made the whole experience even more worth living. I will not write about hard, or negative experiences today – these have been present too, especially when it comes to people suffering from disasters, or human rights abuses that I have witnessed. As I said, I will ponder about these later, in my farewell message in few months’ time.
More specifically, I recently travelled to the Philippines and North Korea (DPRK). I also went to see my Mum and family in Nowy Sacz, and Tahir in Toronto – and had a chance to experience a real and proper winter of the northern hemisphere. I also had a chance to visit Kyiv – the first time in my life, the city, which surprised and charmed me with its beauty, hospitality and kindness of its people!
I am happy to report to all of you that the family is all well and happy. Mum is doing great in Nowy Sacz, and she keeps on challenging people with her vitality and physical vigour. She keeps herself fit and busy hiking and cycling, not to mention her passion of working in her garden. Tahir in Canada is doing well too. It is his first ever experience of winter. I think that he enjoyed snow very much, but I also guess that he will be happy with some warmer weather arriving soon!
His life is slowly getting sorted and adjusted to a new reality, as he is learning how the new society works for him. Some stuff is still tough and difficult for him, and I think he is challenged that he is far away from his family, but he is well and I am very proud of how he is handling his new challenges. Among many other things, we are in process of getting Tahir’s Canadian travel document (not a passport yet), which would give him a right to travel for holidays/short breaks outside of Canada (excluding Pakistan, where he has fled from). Once we are successful in it, we will apply for his Schengen visa, so that he could visit my family and friends in Europe in July (before I move to Panama) and then, we hope, he would be able to visit me in Panama in following months too.
I am soon to be travelling to Europe (Portugal and then Austria and Belgium), so I hope that I will be able to meet some of you when I am around.
I am looking forward to hearing from you sometime soon. Please stay well and do write, when you can!
Warmest regards and hugs to all,