Archives for March 2023 | News from Roman |

Updates and news

Easter Holidays

Lisbon, Portugal, November 2022

Tahir has just left from Panama, which makes me sad, as I really loved having him around (see some of the pictures of his trip here). His visit reminded me what a great person he is and how much I enjoy spending time with him and learn about his new adventures in Canada (and beyond). Despite being a bit nostalgic, there are many events to look forward to. On Wednesday, I will be travelling to Europe for my Easter break. I will first stay sometime in Portugal, at home in Obidos. Of course, I will also visit friends here and there, and this is really exciting.

If all goes according to plan, I will also be going to Latvia and Estonia for a few days for a short city break. I have never been to any of the Baltic countries, and I have heard that both countries are very interesting and have some stunning architecture. Definitely thrilled about discovering new places!

After returning to the Americas, I should be going to Venezuela at the end of April. As you can imagine, the visit to the country is related to my plans of moving there in August, and should give me a chance to kick-start the process of handover from the person that I will be replacing. Like in a case of the Baltic countries, I have never been to Venezuela yet, so I am also looking forward to the experience of learning about an entirely new place!

I shall keep you updated on my travels and will send you links to photos!

In the meanwhile, I hope you all are well!

Tahir's visit

Tahir in Amador, Panama City, Panama, March 2023

Tahir has arrived safely to Panama, and we are enjoying the time very much. It is a rather short visit, so we are trying to make sure that we enjoy every possible moment. Together, we meet common friends, and travel in and out of the city! Above all, we chat and talk!

Tahir's visit reminds me how lucky I am that he has become a part of our family. I feel blessed and happy when he is around! As an additional bonus, as Ramadan is coming, we are getting ready to mark this important holiday.

If you wanna look at some of the pictures from his visit, you are welcome to do so by
visiting this link (pictures from his visit at the bottom of the album).

In other news, we are busy with various humanitarian stresses around America.
Floods in Paraguay and Peru, an earthquake in Ecuador are the main, but not the only events that keep us busy.

At the back of my mind, I am preparing for my Easter break in Europe. At the beginning of April, I will be travelling to Portugal and possibly to Lithuania and Estonia.

An emergency mission to Paraguay

Asuncion, Paraguay, March 2022

A big part of Paraguay is suffering from severe rains and floods. Many people are displaced and cut off from the world. If this was not enough, there is an outbreak of Dengue Fever in the affected areas.

Given the situation, I am flying with an emergency mission to Asuncion on Friday, and then will try to reach the affected areas on Saturday/Sunday. Hopefully, the visit will help us make determinations on whether and how how we could support the people in humanitarian needs.

I will keep you all updated on how the mission goes, and as usual will take pictures, so those, who are interested will be able to peep into what is happening in Gran Chaco.

Reflections on the training in Colombia

El Socorro (near Medellin), Colombia, March 2023

The week's long HEAT training (Hostile Environment Awareness Training) has finished and I am now back home to Panama.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience a lot, and learnt a great deal too. First of all, we had participants from EU diplomatic mission from many various countries across Latin America. Literally everyone was very professional, but also what I like referring as 'human'. Extremely empathetic and kind people. Just having an opportunity to get to know the group was worth all the effort!

Then, we did learn a lot. We had sessions on general security threats, first aid to victims of accidents (including accidents of being shot at); operating radios and communication equipment in places where there is no telephone coverage; drawing and using maps; learning about mines, and how to get out to safety if you happen to end up in a mine infested areas; learning how to survive if you are caught in a cross-fire; training on arms and how to disable/discharge various types of weapon (pistols, revolvers, riffles, etc.); and finally how to survive if you are ambushed and are victim of the kidnapping.

While all of the sessions were very interesting, I loved the first aid part a lot. I especially got to appreciate ways of helping people who suffered injuries from shots, and accidents. It was amazing to learn how to stop bleeding (with actual artificial blood involved); secure a patient who have lots an eye or a limp, and or how to help a victim in a situation where you yourself are in danger (for example when you are ambushed).

I however have some mixed feelings from the kidnapping part. The session was arranged by our instructors (who were all amazing, by the way). It was however physically and above all emotionally challenging part. The kidnapping exercise woke some of my demons from the past, which I would prefer not remember. I will not lie, I was and still am shaken, and trying to deal with it and forget about the whole thing.

Even if things were a bit difficult, as I wrote, I appreciated the experience very much.

In case, you would like to see some images from my week in Colombia,
here comes my photo report (of our training and our free time (by the way Medellin rocks)).

In other news, I am now getting ready to welcome Tahir to Panama City. He should be arriving here from Toronto on 17th March, and needless to say that I am very excited! I hope that there will be no emergencies that I need to attend before that, although there are indications that floods in Paraguay may bring some unexpected developments on the humanitarian front.