Updates and news

November 2018

Archives (2nd February 2016): Tahir's application is already in Australia

We finally managed to officially submit Tahir’s application for an off-shore humanitarian visa for Australia. We expect that we will hear from the Government of Australia (on his application) in 6 months. Keep your fingers crossed! More on Tahir can be read at this link.

Archives (1st February 2016): What is wrong with all of us?!

The end of January has been busy. After having visited Mongolia, I went down to Phuket in southern part of Thailand to visit centres for the detailed people of Rohingya who flee Myanmar from the religious persecution.

Detention centres are always depressing, especially when one realises that more often than not, their inmates’ only crime is an attempt of running for their own lives. What I saw in southern Thailand saddened me to the point that made me feel disgusted of being a human being. Hundreds of men, women and children detained and left in a legal limbo. Unable to go back home, unable to live normally and without any prospects of finding a solution for their lives in a foreseeable future. All what they have, is the cells of their detention centres, and fear that these centres may remain their homes for years to come… Sadly, the more people try fleeing desperation from their homelands, the less we are able to show compassion and empathy, and less we are to make an effort to finding solutions that would work for all of us.

When I see this unspeakable suffering on one side, and growing nationalism and protectionism from those of us who are luckier and wealthier on the other, I feel that we are destined for a well deserved human catastrophe that will affect all of us. I feel that the differences between haves and non-haves are so great that are impossible to bridge anymore. We are destined to fail, and perhaps this is the only sensible solution that is left to us?

Archives (21st January 2016): -35 Degrees Celcius

So, I am in Ulaanbaatar, learning about the devastating effects of the ‘dzud’ (see the previous post), and experiencing the coldest temperature that I have ever had a chance to feel… an impressive - 35 degrees Celsius! Despite being really frozen here, I enjoy being in this country! More news to come soon.

Archives (16th January 2016): Dzud

‘Dzud’ is a weather phenomenon that is particular to Mongolia. It basically refers to sever winter, cold snaps that occur in steps of Mongolia and are so harsh that claim lives of domestic animals. Although dzuds are not uncommon in the country, when they are particularly strong, they may cause humanitarian crises. Indeed, when too many animals die - this affects the ability of the local communities to feed themselves.The climatic changes that the world experiences makes the dzuds more dangerous. It seems like this year may be particularly bad. The preliminary reports suggest that the El Niño has has sent extremely cold weather across the country, and this threatens the well-being of many people.

Next week, I will be travelling to Ulaanbaatar and some provinces outside of the city to check what could be done to ease the people’s suffering to the crisis. We hope that we will be able to roll out the response that will be helpful to people that need it! I will keep you posted on the outcomes of the mission, as soon as I can.

Archives (9th January 2016): Portugal

My first few days of 2016 are not the happiest I have had. What happens in Poland continues to make me feel really down and unhappy. The more I see what the direction of reforms of the new government, and indeed the public support that they receive, the more I feel alienated from that country. There is so little that I can associate myself in Poland these days. Yes, I have some wonderful family and friends in the country, and therefore I will always have a soft spot for the place, but emotionally I am detaching myself from Poland more and more. The social and political changes in the country frighten me. Poland has not been a particularly open society in the modern history, but now I feel it is becoming increasingly xenophobic and unfriendly towards foreigners, sexual minorities, people that do not conform with what is widely regarded as ‘traditional Catholic’.

As I feel so unhappy about the state of affairs at home, I think that it is only fair that I leave and try arranging my base/home in a place where I feel more at ease. In recent weeks, I have done quite some preparations towards moving to Portugal. Nothing is finalised yet, and therefore I am not holding my breath, but it looks like in some weeks’ time I will be able to transfer my ‘habitual residence’ to Lisbon! While, a bit sad about leaving Nowy Sacz, I am excited to start investing energy in getting to know ma adoptive city a bit better! I will keep you all updated on how it goes!

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,
Roman

Archives (22nd December 2015): Merry Christmas!

Just a few days away left for Christmas. It is my 2nd Christmas in Thailand. As the country officially does not celebrate the holiday, I will mainly be working. Nevertheless, I would like to wish everyone a wonderful holiday! Merry Christmas!

Archives (13th December 2015): Looking for a new motherland

You may remember from my previous post that I decided to move out from Poland, or I should say, officially quit Polish residency. Possibly, it may prove to be more difficult than I would like, and perhaps, I will not succeed at the end, but at this stage, I am determined to try! My search for my new motherland (fatherland) continues. I have researched and enquired various people on possible options. As I see the world today, and look at where I could feel comfortable, my favourite choice of migration would be Canada, but realistically my personal situation will not allow me to get there, so I need to assume that Canada is not an option after all. Some of the EU countries may however work. So far, I have made enquires in Romania, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Ireland. Given the responses from immigration lawyers, my language skills and also my contacts with various countries, so far my priorities are as follows: 1. Portugal, 2. Spain, 3. Malta, 4. Romania, 5. Ireland. I could also easily imagine moving to a place like Iceland or Estonia, but I have no clear understanding of how easy or difficult it is to settle there. On top of that if I ever decide to apply for a new citizenship, I guess I would have lots of trouble learning Estonian or Icelandic… I therefore may stick to either English, Spanish or Portuguese speaking countries. Then, I also looked at the citizenship programme in Peru. It may be an expensive option, but then I have such a soft spot for Latin America, and Peru seems to be quite welcoming to the idea of inviting new citizens. A clear advantage is that one can successfully apply for the Peruvian citizenship within two years, which is relatively quick. Who knows, you may soon refer to me as Peruvian? Winking

Archives (9th December 2015): Working in Myanmar

Just got to Yangon today. I will be here for 9 days, helping the team in Myanmar looking at proposals for humanitarian programmes to be implemented in 2016. Definitely exciting to be in the country again, and very curious to see the quality of the proposed interventions! I am the most interested to read about the projects aiming at improving fate of the populations in western part of the country, on the border with Bangladesh. As it seems, this is where in the country, the most serious humanitarian needs are.

Archives (5th December 2015): December updates

We have progressed a great deal with Tahir’s application for the humanitarian visa for Australia. There is still some work to be done on details, and editing, but it looks better and better. Hopefully, we will be able to be ready to submit it still in December 2015. In the meanwhile, as expected, there is no response, or news from the Polish authorities to the letter that we sent to them a few weeks ago. Very sad about it, but not surprised. I will be travelling to Myanmar for work next week. While there, I will be helping in assessment of new projects that my organisation may be implementing in the country in 2016. Definitely should be interesting, and looking forward to it, especially that much of the work will relate to the displaced populations - the group that is especially dear to me! Finally, a bit of a personal drama. The new authorities in Poland prepare for changes that make me very sad and uncomfortable. Poland is turning right, and much of our freedoms will be curbed - this I have very little doubt of. Given that these changes have a great support from the public indeed, I just feel alienated and very unhappy. I feel that there is no place for me left in Poland. Therefore I am now undertaking steps to leave the country permanently. I am now looking for opportunities to settle in another EU country (given that I have an international job, I am seeking for my new European base). Portugal, Spain, Malta and Romania are high on my lists so far. I will keep you updated on decisions, based on what is possible.

Archives (29th November 2015): One year in Thailand

Today is my 1st anniversary of arriving to Thailand. It is quite spectacular how quickly the time goes, and also how many things and experiences one can get within 1 year! I need to say that however odd it sounds, it has been a very difficult year. Getting used to living in a country, where there is no active war is actually difficult. People in peaceful societies function differently. When not confronted with existential choices on daily basis, people put priorities to values and issues that I have difficulties in comprehending. So yes, the adjustments of living here after years in South Sudan are not easy. Then, this year in many ways is also wonderfully nice. My new job involves a great deal of travelling to the most amazing places. Within this year, for the first time in my life I visited places such as Mongolia, South Korea, North Korea, or the Philippines. I also travelled to a number of other places that I had visited before too. Then, there are new friends too! All friends are special, and would require attention here, but I will just mention about Tahir… the guy that I already talked about in my previous post, an amazing young man from Pakistan, who has impressed me and so many others in his struggle of finding safety and normality after the nightmares that he had gone through in his native Pakistan. My highest tribute goes to him and to all people fleeing humiliation in their homelands. My highest respect to all refugees that run for the lives of their families and their own.

Archives (26th November 2015): Who is Tahir?

Some time ago, I promised to you a story of Tahir. Today comes its first part. As things develop, I will keep on writing more about him and his case in the future. This entry is a copy of the letter that I sent to the Chancery of the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland.

“Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing to you asking you for a grand favour. Although I am aware that the case that I am going to introduce to you is very difficult, if not impossible to solve, I have decided to present it to you hoping that my message will prompt a kind reaction that will allow for a happy finalisation of the struggle.

For last 12 months, I have lived in Bangkok, where I work for one of the international organisations that deal with humanitarian aid. Before arriving to this city, for many years I had worked in various parts of Africa, but also Afghanistan, Pakistan or Myanmar, where I tried serving the needs of victims of natural catastrophes, wars and conflicts.

As soon as I arrived to Thailand, by pure coincident, I met Mr. Tahir Rana - a young Pakistani, currently living in Bangkok. Tahir is a member of the religious group called Ahmadyyia, whose members in Pakistan are a subject of severe persecution based on their traditions and faith.

I got to know Tahir on the street: begging, hungry, and physically exhausted. Our first meeting ended up with my invitation for lunch and with a conversation… Quite extraordinarily, our first meeting turned into an invitation for yet another meal, then another one, and another one… Today, my friendship with Tahir already is one year old. During this time, I have learnt a great deal about his inhumane suffering in Pakistan and here Thailand. It is also during this time, during which, together with my family, we decided that we would like to help Tahir beyond just feeding him.

As this is written, Tahir awaits for having his asylum application processed by UNHCR in Thailand. Although a very fact that he is registered with UNHCR is quite positive, there are little chances that there will be a positive resolution of his situation any time soon. The issue is that as the immigration crisis in the EU intensifies, people who need a real international protection in, for example, Asia do not stand a chance for a quick relocation to third countries. According to the latest information from UNHCR, Tahir is likely to wait for additional 5 - 6 years before any progress is made.

While waiting in Thailand for any resolution is not problematic in itself, the issue is that Thailand is not a signatory of Geneva Convention (parts relating to refugee treatment), and therefore it treats people as Tahir as illegal migrants - even if they can produce valid UNHCR registrations. These legal provisions result in lack of refugees’ protection mechanisms. The migrants are subjected to inhumane treatment from local authorities, and in order to survive need to engage in various risky practices and behaviours (falling prey of slavery work, sale of human organs, prostitutions, etc.). Given that UNHCR has no means to help its beneficiaries, it is easy to comprehend that this situation translates into thousands of human tragedies similar to those that Tahir needs to go through. For more descriptive introduction of Tahir’s situation, please refer to the attached documents.

As I have already written, I would very much like to help Tahir to become independent so that he could start having a productive and fulfilled life. I do not hide that the easiest solution, from my perspective, would be relocating Tahir to Poland. There, I and my family would try to help him adapt and integrate to the life in the country, to help him in finding a job and find his place in the society.

In order to facilitate Tahir’s journey to Poland, on 9th October we applied for an entry visa to the country. The application was submitted to the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Bangkok. The idea was that Tahir would travel to Warsaw and ask for an asylum, or adequate protection there. We were able to meet all of Tahir’s costs relating to his trip and stay in the country (many people offered to extent their financial and logistical help) and I was ready to commit that I would meet all costs relating to his deportation from Poland, in case his application for the protection is unsuccessful. Unfortunately and to our big disappointment his application for an entry visa was not allowed to be submitted. The official in the Consulate argued that he was unable to deal with his application, given that Tahir is an illegal alien in Thailand, thus eligible to ask for a visa to Poland in Bangkok.

After the unsuccessful attempt in the Consulate of Poland, together with some of my Australian friends, we decided to investigate an option of relocating Tahir to Australia. As this is written, we are in the middle of preparing his application for an Australian humanitarian visa. Despite a fact that we will do all in our power to prepare some good quality arguments, we are aware that his chances of success are slim.

Despite our lack of success and constant disappointments, I do believe that we will be able to find a solution to his dramatic situation, even in the time, when there is so much of apprehension deriving from fears of refugees. Tahir is a young, genuine and hard working person, who happens to be in the seemingly hopeless situation; a person who is rejected and hated because of his religion and his background back at home (in Pakistan), and a person who has no opportunities to support himself and lead a normal life here in Thailand.

I am fully aware that helping Tahir is not going to ‘save the world’, and I know that there are thousands of people that have similar (and worse) problems. It is all true. However, it is also true that for whatever reason, I got to know Tahir, and that I got challenged to face his suffering. It did happen and I am now unable to look away…

This is precisely why, I decided to write to you, and ask you kindly for your support in front of relevant authorities, so that it becomes possible to start the procedure of granting Tahir the protection in Poland. As I mentioned, together with my family and with my friends we are ready to commit assisting Tahir while in Poland, so that there is no need for use of public funds on his case. It is therefore that I beg you for help, beg you for assistance, as this young life needs support so that it can survive.

I am finishing this long message by underlying that I am ready to provide with any additional information that you may need. In the attachment, I am including numerous information on Tahir himself, but also about the situation of the Ahmadyyia in Pakistan, and indeed the situation of refugees in Thailand.

I would like to thank you in advance for any help and assistance that you are ready to provide.

Kindest regards, Roman Majcher"

Archives (18th November 2015): Spanish language exam

Terrorists attacks in so many places around the world, growing racism across Europe - especially in Poland and the countries of the region do not encourage to be cheerful. Some good news however is that there is a little bit of progress in getting ideas on ‘durable solutions’ to the Ahmadyyia asylum-seekers that I am trying to help to resettle somewhere. After Poland’s rejection to even accept his asylum claim (look the post here), we are exploring possibilities of sending him to Australia, Canada or the USA. I will write a proper post on it soon - so look out, if you are interested.

In 3 days, I am having my B1 Spanish language exam at the testing centre in Bangkok. Do keep you fingers crossed!

Archives (11th October 2015): Refugees unwanted

I am in a very bad mood. For last year, I have been trying to help one of the Pakistani asylum seekers (of Ahmadi origin) survive in Bangkok. The life of the asylum seekers in Bangkok is really difficult, and there is no exaggeration in a statement that every day is a struggle for survival. As you can imagine, the situation of religious minorities in Pakistan, especially of the Ahmadyyia origin is completely unacceptable. They do face extreme forms of persecution on daily basis. So when the Embassy of Poland in Bangkok decided not to help in relocation of my friend to Poland so that they could seek protection there, I clearly was disappointed. When I look at it, this is how I see it:

Written by life / Please share if you find worth doing it.

Poland: I am beautiful, I am nice, I am compassionate, and I care for humanity! I am PERFECT!

Asylum seeker: Hello Poland! I run for my life, they wanted to kill me, they stole all I had, they burnt my shop where I worked. Now, it is still very hard. I can’t get work because who I am, they hate me and because of that they refuse me my documents, they refuse me going to hospital. I will die, if I am not helped. I am however happy that you Poland can help me!

Poland: Yes, we will protect you. We love humanity, we fight for the oppressed! You can ask for a protection in our country, and when we make sure that you tell us the truth, you will be able to stay with us, and we will help you! We are WONDEFRUL and HOSPITABLE people!

Asylum seeker: This is great. I am so lucky to have found you Poland! Please accept my application for an asylum!

Poland: But we cannot do it. You need to be in Poland to ask for that privilege.

Asylum seeker: I understand, then I can just go to Poland and ask for your protection there?

Poland: Yes, you just need a visa to get there, and apply for my protection there!

Asylum seeker: I am really happy to hear that! Please give me a visa then, so I can finally go and be listened to, by you wonderful people!

Poland: We can’t give you a visa.

Asylum seeker: But why? You told me that I could come and seek your protection… (tears in asylum seeker’s eyes).

Poland: Well, you do not have proper documents to apply for a visa.

Asylum seeker: But, I do not have these documents, because they would not give them to me. This is why I need your protection. They hate me in my country, and they harass me on every step of my life. They want to kill me, they will not give me documents that I need.

Poland: This is your problem, not mine. Next customer, please!

I am beautiful, I am nice, I am compassionate, and I care for humanity! I am PERFECT!

Archives (24th September 2015): Cliff

A very sad piece of news has reached me from the United States. My college friend, Cliff Burger has just passed away. Cliff has suffered from a brain cancer for a long time. He faced his illness with courage and an amazing dignity and integrity. He will be truly missed by many. May you rest in Peace!

Archives (6th September 2015): Central Europe and refugees

As many of the European countries struggle to find a solution to a crisis caused by an influx of refugees from Syria and northern Africa to Europe, the 4 Central European countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) have sent a shockwave across the continent by sending a clear signs that they are not likely to support any European consensus on obligatory sharing of burden of accepting refugees on their own soil.

Regardless of whether these countries will eventually decide to soften their position or not, I am astounded to learn that after suffering so much during the recent world war, as well as decades of communism, we are so unwelcoming and unable to offer a helping hand to those who really need it. Perhaps, we should all remind ourselves that we are all signatories of Universal Human Rights Declaration, and as such have responsibilities towards refugees. If our countries are unable to accept humanistic approach to the crisis, perhaps at least we would be able to consider our international obligations that we have subscribed to?

Archives (30th August 2015): Lucy Strickland

Lucy Strickland, my dear friend with whom I worked in Ethiopia has been nominated as one of the finalist for the prize of Pride of Australia in the category of ‘Inspiration’. Details can be read here. Congratulations to Lucy!

Archives (29th August 2015): Shame of Europe

I am certainly not a very proud citizen of Poland and Europe these days. When following how Europe is dragging its feet on helping refugees from Syria, Somalia or Eritrea I feel ashamed. If this was not bad enough, I think that we are witnessing a re-birth of large scale Nazism in many parts of Europe. Sadly Poland’s society, which suffered so much from the evils of World War II seems to be actively involved in the promotion of xenophobia and hatred towards refugees that flee their countries in search of an opportunity of peace. I dearly hope that I am wrong, or that people will stop and reflect, but I just worry that we are heading towards the conflict that will be impossible to manage. There is too much hatred and suffering that goes nowhere. Very sad times!

Archives (15th August 2015): Finishing my break

I am now at one of Warsaw’s airport hotels waiting for my flight to Dubai. My summer in Europe is finishing now, and going back to Bangkok to resume my duties in the office on Monday. It was fun to be here, and looking forward to my next experience.

Archves (11th August 2015): New pictures online

Holidays are always a good time for photo taking. As I am touring Spain and Poland, I take some pictures from my whereabouts. You are definitely welcome to have a look.

Archives (26th July 2015): In a holiday mood

I am going to travelling for my holidays in 4 days, and I am certainly in my holiday mood now! It has been an enjoyable, but certainly busy 3 months, and I am looking forward to some free time in Spain and Poland! Although, when I am in Spain, I will actually be studying (I will be a student of a language school) in the mornings, it is still a nice prospect… using Spanish and enjoying sites of Gran Canaria, and then visiting my parents and friends in Nowy Sacz should be pleasant enough.

In the meanwhile, things here in Asia are mixed. While all goes well in my personal life, things do not necessarily go so well, when it comes to the countries which I follow. The problems of the Muslim communities in Myanmar are as severe as they have ever been, and the effects climatic consequences of ‘El Niño’ suggest that we will be having some really busy times in North Korea (drought), the Philippines (drought and cyclones) and across number of islands in the Pacific. At this stage, it is the North Korea that makes me worried the most. Lack of rains have quite devastating effects on rice and maize production, and if rains do not come, we may be heading to a very serious food situation at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016.

It sounds like it will be a very busy end of 2015, so I’d better make sure that I switch off from work and relax during my 2 weeks of holidays, so that I do not get too tired too quickly later. However, whatever happens, I will be in touch!

Archives (19th July 2015): An evening out

Yesterday my Bangkok friends called me up and told me to be ready for a surprise evening out. They came to my flat around 4:30 in the afternoon and announced that we were going for a dinner in Pattaya (a tourist destination, east of Bangkok). At first I thought that it was a bit crazy to go so far for a dinner only, but then it was Saturday, and I really needed to stop thinking about my recent trips to Myanmar and DPRK, so all in all I was quite pleased with the idea. So off we went… to enjoy a stroll on a tropical beach and an Indian treat in one of the local restaurants there. Turned out to be fantastic: great company of friends and wonderful food!

I was especially pleased to have an easy evening out, as my mind is preoccupied with my experiences of DPRK and western Myanmar, which I have just visited in recent weeks. A looming food crisis in Korea and an ongoing animosities between Buddhist and Muslim communities of Rakhine State of Myanmar made me feel somehow depressed. The magnitude of human suffering that I saw in these two places, and a realisation that there is very little resources to deal with these problems (read: the human suffering is likely to intensify and carry on for a long time) made me feel uneasy and helpless. A talk with friends and an evening out allowed me to have some different perspective on issues, and motivated me to stop feeling sorry but challenge myself on what I could do better to advocate for at least some action to help out at least a bit. While I have no illusions that I have no leverage on turning things around in any of these places, I can do some small bits that may have some positive effects for some communities: not ideal, but better than nothing! All in all, I am all motivated for action, however small!

Archives (13th July 2015): Back to Yangon

I am writing from Yangon today. I am vey tired, as I have just returned from a rather physically demanding trip to the western part of Myanmar (Rakhine State), but also very happy to be in this country again after many years of absence. I will write more about my experiences here (and in DPRK as I have promised previously), but this will happen when I back in Bangkok in a few days. In the meanwhile, just wanted to greet you all from one of the most enchanting cities in the world - Yangon!

Archives (28th June 2015): Back from DPRK

I realise that I have not been proactive when it comes to writing updates in here. I was away from Bangkok in DPRK, and was very busy there, without much chance to write. Now, I am however back online, and will restart writing. Thanks for your patience!

Archives (14th June 2015): 20K in Warsaw

Presidential elections in Poland prompted lots of emotions… From my perspective, what was really depressing was a fact that the pre-election campaign gave opportunities a surge of xenophobia and hatred towards all kind of minorities that live in Poland. Although I was not surprised, I was astounded by lack of empathy to problems of so many of people living in Poland. On one side, everyone seemed to worry about poverty and social injustice, but only as long as it concerned white Poles… the moment that we start referring to problems of refugees, foreigners, non-Christians, LGBT, Roma communities… the compassion quickly vanishes... As a society, in Poland, we fear minorities… All these debates on ‘Poland’s values’ made me feel sad, as I could not agree with so many things that I read about and listened to. Clearly, I need to accept that democracy is all about the majority’s views, and as such I humbly respect that many people in my country tend to favour conservative values, but this does not mean that I agree with it - hence my very mixed feelings… happy to see people being able to express what they say freely, but sad to know that we still dislike difference.

Somehow, there was a ray of hope in Warsaw yesterday. The Warsaw’s Equity Parade attracted 20,000 participants! It was the largest one ever organised in Poland. In addition, the novelty was that there was no counter-parades arranged by the nationalistic movements (well, these may come later though). Except for the rights for LGBT and disabled community (traditional themes of Warsaw’s parades) this year’s happening heavily focused on rights of refugees and migrants in Poland. I really, really liked it and was happy to see that many politicians, actors, companies and civic society organisations openly supported the event. Most importantly, as mentioned, 20,000 people came! There is some hope after all Winking

Archives (6th June 2015): June updates

It is already 6 months since I arrived to Bangkok! Time flies indeed… I feel like I have lived in Thailand for ever, although still in October 2014, I was still in an environment of war and conflict of South Sudan.

Moving to a new place frequently prompts new opportunities and brings changes to ones life. Moving around is not new to me, as I constantly do so. Arrival to Bangkok is still special. It is for a first time for a very long time that I have arrived (to settle) to a city that could be considered as ‘modern’, with functioning infrastructure and with vas variety of entertainment possibilities. It is perhaps an odd thing to write, but instead of benefiting from it, Bangkok overwhelms me and sometimes makes me scared. I guess I have alienated myself from modern appliances and modern way of life, and seeing rushing people with their eyes fixed on their phones while driving, walking, eating out or in a metro makes me feel lost. Here, another odd thing that I am going to write is that is some ways, I really felt more comfortable in Juba, where life was clearly much more difficult, when you think of comforts. To be fair though, I am enjoying being able to walk on streets of Bangkok without anyone wanting to shoot at me, or assault me. This is definitely a welcoming change that I enjoy!

When I arrived to Bangkok, I started learning Spanish. This is one of the best thing I could have done. Initially, the lessons were difficult, but it is exciting to see that just a few months later, I am already able to communicate quite a lot. Now, really motivated to keep it going and would like to make my Spanish fluent within next 18 months.

2 days ago, the Embassy of DPRK granted my visa. If all goes well, I will be travelling (for work) to Pyongyang at the end of June. This is really exciting and I am looking forward to visiting a place that is so little known by the world.

Archives (29th May 2015): Refugees in South East Asia

The Bay of Bengal refugee crisis has changed my plans, and instead of travelling to Brussels for internal meetings in the HQs of my organisation, I remained in Bangkok to follow-up on negotiation progress between the countries on how to handle it. Today, the Government of Thailand is hosting a meeting on finding solutions, but so far, as it is reported, the meeting has not yet brought fruits: Bangkok Post article.

Archives (16th May 2015): Talks about refugees

I just got back to Bangkok from Jakarta, where I met with various organisations trying to deal with the most recent refugee crisis in South East Asia (Myanmar and Bangladeshi refugees trying to seek safety in countries of South East Asia). I have to say that this trip affected my personally a lot… It is already a while since I have been dealing with so much hatred and so much unwillingness of lending a helping hand to the poorest and the most vulnerable victims of conflicts and prosecutions. The last few days I hear nothing but excused of why it is okay not to rescue people from starvation and thirst and seas; why it is okay to deport refugees back to places, where they are likely to face severe prosecution; and countless reasons of why it is justified that the wealthy countries do not welcome refugees, out of duty to protect order within its boundaries. Hatred, xenophobia, cynicism, lack of compassion and lack of empathy are the adjectives that I will associate with May 2015. As nations, communities, civil society organisations, and indeed individuals - we should be ashamed that we do so little to help those who need help, or worse so, that we advocate for actions that potentially harm refugees. I think that we are experiencing a very severe crisis of humanity that will turn against us altogether sooner rather than later. Shame on us the humans!

And here comes an associated article relating to the above.

Archives (9th May 2015): Typhoon in the Philippines

The end of my holiday in Poland is a bit stressful. As I pack to go back to Thailand, we are hearing that many people are bing evacuated from northern parts of the Philippines, due to the typhoon that is expected to make a landfall on Sunday. I may be needing to travel to the Philippines to carry our humanitarian assessments, right after arriving to Bangkok.

Archives (8th May 2015): Back to Bangkok soon

May holidays in Europe is great, but it is time to start thinking of going back to work. After a week in Poland, I am now packing, and preparing to travel back to Thailand this weekend. While, I have really enjoyed staying with my family, hiking, visiting friends, and sightseeing; I am very annoyed by the politics in Poland. The country is in the middle of the presidential campaign, and the hopefuls for the job try convincing Poles to vote for them. Many of our presidential candidates seem to favour xenophobia, lack of respect for the natural environment, and a total lack of respect of diversity of any kind (religious, racial, political, etc.). Personally, I am saddened by this, and feel uncomfortable with the level of political scene in Poland. In that sense, I am glad to be leaving the country, so that I can focus on my work, and forget about the language of hatred that I hear all around me.

Archives (4th May 2015): New Website

As promised, here come a slightly refreshed version of my pages. At this stage (May 2015), lots of resources are unfinished, and are ‘under construction’. While I am sorry for inconvenience, I hope that the site will be fully operational soon.

You will have noticed that while much on the site remains the same, there are some modifications. The main addition is a section on immigration to Poland. The changing times: economic situation in the world and in Poland, as well as demographic developments started processes that we would never imagine that could take place: immigration to Poland. This new, for us, phenomena is full of opportunities, but also cause a considerable uneasiness among many Poles. I find all of these processes extremely interesting and worth some attention - hence this section.

I hope that you will enjoy new and refreshed website! Warmest greetings to all!