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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.

Humanitarian missions and plans for coming weeks

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_11cbcBangkok's China Town

It took me a while to fight my jet-lag after a trip from Toronto to Bangkok via Warsaw and Singapore. Last week was painful. I was wide awake at nights, and very sleepy during days. Saturday that has just passed, allowed me to stabilise a bit and today, on Sunday, I am feeling I am back to my normal!

But tomorrow, I am already travelling for work to San Francisco in the Philippines (not the one in the USA), where together with my colleagues, we will be visiting some of the projects that my organisation supports (meant to prepare the communities to potential natural disasters). San Franciso is a town in southern island of Mindanao, not far from Davao. It will be my first time in that part of the island, which obviously is exciting. I am also very eager to learn about what actions our NGO partners undertake to help communities cope with disasters (which are so common in this part of the world). Working in Mindanao is ever more challenging, as communities are confronted with an ongoing conflict and security threats related to it. When dealing with preparedness to natural disasters, it is important to take into consideration conflict dynamics too. Conflicts make disaster risk reduction (DRR) complicated and difficult, but in the same time, much more rewarding, if successful.

Right after returning from the Philippines, I will be preparing to the trip to Pyongyang in DPR of Korea. It will be my second time in the country, and this time in the winter. Again, when in the country, we will be trying to work out how we can support the communities in their preparedness to disasters in the context the country. When in DPRK, I am hoping to travel out of the capital city as well. I am not likely to be very connected to the web, when I am there, so I will have a break from updating this page for sometime. When I am online again, I shall surely report on the trips and adventures!

In my last post, I told you that I would be moving to Panama in the middle of the year. As time passes by, I get really excited by it. Started doing my readings about the countries of the region (including Panama itself), and got my Spanish books out, so that I can start refreshing my language. Very exciting indeed. Before Panama becomes a reality, I hope that I will still have lots of adventures in Asia. I am holding my breath then!

Moving to Panama City in July 2019

Panama flag
It appears that I will be moving to Panama City in the middle of 2019. As of July I am meant to be taking over the responsibilities for following up on humanitarian emergencies in Latin America and Caribbean islands.

New responsibilities, new part of the world, new languages… I am very, very excited. And a bonus is that I will be close to Canada, meaning that it will be easier to visit Tahir!

More news to come soon! In the meanwhile, greetings to everyone!

Enjoying my time off

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_11c56It seems like I was barely taking a plane out of Bangkok to take me to Poland, and now, two weeks later, I am here in Canada, packing to start the journey back to Thailand.

Travelling with Mum around Ukraine, spending time with family in Krakow, and then touring Montreal and Toronto with Zosia (my niece) and Tahir have all been absolutely special and wonderful. We did have some unexpected adventures (we all got sick in Canada), but this did not stop us from having lots of fun and enjoy one another's company.
Here comes the link to the photo journal from the trip. Enjoy it!

It will be sad to be leaving Tahir behind tomorrow, but then, it is comforting to know that we should be able to see very soon again!

Pleasure of planning your travels

With less than a week until my departure for my next holidays, it is time to explore options of what to see and do, when touring Ukraine, Poland and Canada.

While I am excited about all of the places, planning of what to do in Kyiv is giving me particular pleasure. The trip to Ukraine, despite being Poland's neighbour, will be my first one to the country. I am lucky enough to have Ukrainian friends, and foreign colleagues, who happen to live in the country's capital. They have given me so many different suggestions of how to spend our time there (I will be travelling with Mum) that it is now clear, some really hard choices will need to come… We will have no time to see all.
Kyiv appears to be an amazingly interesting city with lots of beautiful architecture to see. Then, it is apparently also known for great restaurants, and fantastic culture. Kyiv's operas and operas are very well known in Europe and beyond.

Poland is slightly easier to plan, as I am familiar with the country. Mum and I will spend a day in Krakow on the way to Kyiv,
and we are planning to go to see an opera. While in Nowy Sacz (after Kyiv), I will just be enjoying friends, family and trying to visit some of my favourite spots in the mountains.

Then comes a week in Canada. While we have not decided yet, the odds are that I will not stay in Toronto all the time, but together with Tahir, we will travel to Quebec City,
which should be celebrating its annual Winter Carnival!

There is no doubt that planning your holidays can be as much fun as the actual trip! Can't wait anymore!

Plans for the week ahead

This is my last week, before I head off for my winter holiday to Europe and North America. Six days, and I will be on the plane to Krakow to meet Mum. I feel quite excited already.

Before I depart, I still need to put some effort in finalising my work stuff. I guess, one of the bigger and perhaps exciting task may be finalising talks with my headquarters on my future deployment (after I finish here in Bangkok in July 2019). Potentially, there may be some delays, and we will only hold the conversations later, but odds are, things should progress this coming week. I am a bit nervous, as there are unknowns, and one can always not get anything at all, but then, I am also hopeful I should be able to negotiate an interesting post.

Then, we are going to be very busy choosing our 2019 humanitarian projects for 2019 in various countries in South and Southeast Asia. We have received hundreds of various proposals from partners, and the competition will be stiff. Multitude of bids should however give us some really, hopefully, options to choose from. I am especially interested and curious to read the bids for the Philippines, a country that I am slightly more involved with.

Finally, I will be having some meetings with colleagues from various embassies accredited to Thailand, with whom we will be discussing on how to support refugees in country, and also the authorities of Thailand in their strive to reform the refugee law. My dream would be that the reform takes us to recognition of rights of the asylum seekers and recognised refugees, in a way that they would be granted proper stay visas and work permits (at least for defined period of time, until a long term solutions could be worked out for them either in Thailand, or in 3rd countries).

All in all, despite a fact that the holidays are approaching fast, still lots of work to do, before I board the plane to see Mum.

Looking forward to holidays

Busy end of 2018, as well as dramatic events in Gdansk, Nairobi, and the UK, combined with 'usual' humanitarian issues in Southeast Asia wore me off. I am very tired, and I need holidays. I dream of time to spend with family and friends. In that sense, I am counting days for my trip to Krakow. I am already leaving in one week. Not too long at all!

The dramatic
events in Gdansk and their consequences on the political life in Poland made me very sad in many ways. The death of Adamowicz, unfortunately, is used for political gains of various parties and their leaders in the country and elsewhere within the EU. It all feels so wrong to read about it! Then, I also need to admit, I am inspired by people in the streets. Residents of Gdansk, of countless towns, villages and cities across the country seem to have come to conclusions that in order to survive as the community, we need to change something within our ourselves. People seem to underline that we need to be more respectful and kinder to one another, or else, we will head to the total meltdown of trust, and possible end up in an open conflict. Recent days showed an outpour of kindness, gestures of good will and support. Long-time enemies try giving it another chance to make up their differences; people reach out to people, whom normally differ from them. Very encouraging! Obviously, the question remains whether the trend persists beyond the time of grief? It might be a difficult task, if the politicians and the media are not going to join in, which I have difficulties to believe. Then again, it must be the people who need to apply the pressure, and perhaps the time has come?

To a large extent, whatever is happening in Poland, appears to be mirroring in the United Kingdom too. What Brexit has done to the communities in the British Isles appears to be horrific. Many people stick to their positions of what they believe is right, and too frequently, consider 'the others' with hostilities. Then, there seems to be a growing realisation that this is unsustainable and that people will need to find a way to glue the communities together, regardless of whatever happens politically. Watching this is painful, as too many people get hurt and lose their hope in humanity. I just hope things will turn out the best for the British people, and the chaos will create the new order that will work for most members of the community.

Needless to write that I was extremely saddened by the terror attacks in Nairobi. Kenya is one of the countries, which I know well, and where I spent a considerable amount of time of my life. Understandably, I have a soft spot for it, and therefore I feel even more discomfort than I would for a place that is well familiar to me.

We just need to hope that the crises frequently are the sources of new beginnings. And in this spirit, I will finish off my post tonight.

Murder of Pawel Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdansk

I hoped so badly, it was not going to happen, but it did. The President of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, dies after being stabbed by a madman during the charity event in his native city.

Adamowicz was one of the few Polish politicians, advocating for rights of refugees, LGBT community, disadvantaged… he championed the struggle for gender equity, and women's rights… He was one of the few in Poland's politics to say no to hatred… Rest in Peace, and may your departure inspire all of us, regardless of what we believe in, to be better and kinder people…

Adamowicz's death has shocked and saddened me personally. His unequivocal stand on refugees, his passion for solidarity with the less fortunate citizens of the planet was inspirational, and very rare in Poland and across Central Europe. I will miss you and your wisdom dearly! Thank you for your life!

Visitors from Nowy Sacz in Bangkok

Today, my friends: Justyna, Tomek and their children are coming to visit me in Bangkok all the way from Nowy Sacz. They will stay with me for some days, before they proceed with their journey to Vietnam. I hope that once they are here, we are going to have long evenings talks and that we will have a chance to explore the city! Very excited!

Once my guests are gone, I will be making further arrangements to visit Mum and family in Poland and Tahir in Canada.

Pictures and stories will follow soon!