Casco Viejo, Panama, January 2021
Arranging professional trips, let alone for pleasure, is extremely challenging during the time of the pandemic, which is frustrating, given the humanitarian needs around us. COVID-19, paired with other catastrophes of various nature (natural phenomena, conflicts) have created so much havoc across the continent that we should be all over the place responding to these challenges. While we do our best, the movement restrictions do not make things easier. As an example, I am prevented from going to Brazil's Amazon, where there is the severe pandemic crisis going on, and thousands of people die of COVID-19 unnecessarily due to the collapse of the health system.
The good news however is that despite restrictions, we are moving forward with getting authorisations from the Government of Argentina for me to travel to the country soon, so that I can visit the Province of Salta, which suffers from a severe drought and the outbreak of the pandemic. If all goes according to plans, I should be going there in early days of February, so that we can adjust our ongoing intervention to the affected populations.
While the trip is important from the professional point of view, I am also extremely happy to be able to travel again. My life - professional and personal has always involved in physical movement, and I have suffered a bit for not being able to carry out my routines as 'usual'.
I hope I will soon be able to report more progress on my work and movements!
Argentinian flag, Buenos Aires, March 2020
We are into the second week of 2021. As we are still on the lockdown in Panama (as in many other parts of the world), things are a bit slow and unclear, when it comes to work and personal life plans. Movement restrictions make it more difficult to function in a way what I would consider 'normal'. This being written, I am still trying to get my head around what comes next in a nearer and further future. Some of the highlights include:
- Missions to Argentina, Chile and Honduras: I am well behind visiting our projects in Argentina, and long overdue a visit to Chile. In Argentina, I am in need of visiting the northern province of Salta, where we are trying to support indigenous communities in their struggle against drought, and now the consequences of COVID-19. Also, it is clear to us that the pandemic has created new humanitarian concerns both in Argentina and Chile. One of the examples (although not the only one), is a worsening situation of refugees and migrant workers in large urban centres. We hear that the collapsing economies of the two countries have a tremendous impact on migrants, as they struggle getting any income and have lost access to basic services, including accommodation, health and basic commodities such as food or safe potable water. The visit to the two countries would help us define our own strategies over how we could assist in alleviating some of these stresses, if at all possible.
The visit to Honduras, on the other hand, would be a follow-up of the mission to my November, after hurricane assignment. I would need to get there to check on how our humanitarian projects are implemented and assess whether they make an expected difference.
- Visit to Portugal: I really need to travel to Portugal soon. I have not been to Obidos far too long, and not only that I miss it, but I have got tonnes of practical and administrative stuff that I should deal with. My permanent residence permit for Portugal being the most important and urgent.
- Arranging for a meeting with Tahir: Although I managed to meet Mum and my family in Poland relatively recently (end of October 2020), I have have failed to meet Tahir for over a year. There is a ban on travelling to Canada, and so for now, going there is not an option. I do hope things become easier when it comes to crossing borders, and I will be able to see him soon, either in Canada, Europe (perhaps, he could travel to Portugal) or here in Panama!
I will keep you posted on how these (and other) plans work out. In the meanwhile, do send me updates on what is happening in your lives too!
Last days of 2020 in Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama, December 2020
I am entering into 2021 in Panama City and under the strict COVID-19 lockdown measures. The whole city is closed (literally) and I am not allowed to go out of the flat, unless for necessary food shopping (twice a week, during the specific hours, as defined by number of my passport).
I have already shared my thoughts on 2020, so I will not be repeating what I have already shared with you. Now, all what is on my mind is that 2021 will be a little bit easier on all of us.
Despite all the challenges, I hope that your dreams and ambitions come true. Happy New Year!