Sunday, 15 November 2009

Kacper is back! - Post 47


Fiscal federalism, public debt created by local governments, advantages and disadvantages of decentralisation… Kacper closed his SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies – University of London) course book with a slight headache. ‘Why am I bothered with reading this, if the world around me is just going crazy?’ he thought to himself as he looked at the front page of the News International – one of Pakistan’s dailies. The big, screaming title announcing that the 4th blast (this week) has just hit Peshawar again distressed him a little. ‘This is madness…how many more people needs to die so this stops?’ he asked rethoritically. As he started reading about civilian casualties, he started feeling uneasy. He realised that he actually started treating the news of new explosions and new casualties, like some kind of daily normality, something that occurred daily – and hence was not a big deal! He would read about yet another horrific carnage, get distressed, and then sip his coffee, before engaging with his daily business… ‘You are horrible’ his consciousness was screaming at him. ‘There are innocent people being blown off, and all what you can do is get slightly distressed’ his mind would not let him rest. ‘Do something Kacper, you can’t just sit, and do nothing’ – it went on and on… ‘But what can I do…’ he tried to figure out. The emptiness in his mind was unbearable. He felt he could do nothing… absolutely nothing that seemed to be meaningful that would make at least a bit of difference, the difference that he felt was really needed.

He desperately needed TO DO SOMETHING… Yes, it was egoistic, he needed to do something for his own peace of mind, he needed to fix his own consciousness, his guilt that would not let him sleep… ‘Double Virtual Life of Kacper’ – he thought at that very moment. ‘I need to write something in my partly forgotten blog, and post how I feel online…’ he decided. Kacper thought that sharing his frustrations in the Internet, with people who might or might not read what he wanted to say was going to help him. He wanted the world to know what was happening in Pakistan, and that things in Pakistan were not fair to so many people. He wanted to force people feel guilty a bit in their own cosy homes, their peaceful countries, and spare a moment thinking of those who are scarred and defenceless in Peshawar, Waziristan, or anywhere in the world for that matter. ‘This is not going to change anything though’ – another grim thought started haunting Kacper. ‘Everyone knows what is going on here, but still nothing has been done to prevent it from happening…’ – he went on. ‘People need to know though, people need to be reminded over and over…’ – he tried to convince himself that writing how he felt, and why he felt helpless was somehow important…

Kacper felt that he needed to stop all his guilt feeling. It took lots of his energy away – energy that he needed for his busy week, which was ahead of him.

Twelve militias were killed in South Waziristan today, in the attempt of cleaning the area from the militias… announced the presented of the Dawn news channel, as Kacper started planning his next day at work. ‘No, I am not going to think about it now. I have just finished my entry in the blog, and that will need to be enough…’ he concluded.

P.S. Kacper is reading the Internet news about the swine flu in Europe.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Hong Kong - Post 46


Kacper decided against taking his strong painkillers this time. ‘It is not yet that bad…’ he thought. ‘I can still manage a bit more’ he tried to convince himself. Last two weeks were difficult. His body keeps on aching, and Kacper runs out of ideas of what he should be doing to manage his physical suffering. He hates going through these moments. Physical pains, when present for long time, wear his morale off. On one side, he is simply worried about his general well being, and he is simply scared of his own future, or more specifically, about progress of his disease, and then he also feels guilty. He feels guilty about needing to take some extra time off to rest. It annoys him, especially here, where things are very busy… So much work needs to be done, and he – Kacper, instead of spending time towards meeting challenges of their humanitarian work, he slows down, and takes extra time to rest – so he prevents total exhaustion of his body. ‘I am flown here from across the world to provide humanitarian assistance to the others, and here we go: I seem to need humanitarian assistance myself…’ – the realisation of this simple truth makes his conscious suffer.

Although, the thoughts of his own physical limitations make him very uncomfortable, he is not brave enough to take steps and change his career path. He realises that there are many professional options that are less physically demanding and he could consider doing. Trouble is that he can’t see himself doing anything else (or hardly anything) but being involved in humanitarian work. He enjoys so many aspects of his present life and work so much that he can’t possibly imagine finding any work that would make him feel as fulfilled and happy, as he is now. These contradictions of his life make Kacper feel that he is about to running into some kind of personal catastrophe… He might be able to carry on doing what he is doing now for some more years, but sooner or later he will abruptly be confronted with a dead end street, with no choice but quitting his present lifestyle. Obviously, he would prefer not to be left without choices, and knows that he should start doing something about his future already now… but somehow, at the moment, he is not up to the job – he is too tired. All what he can think of now is that he is a failure, unable to manage himself. At least, his more reasonable part pushed him to arrange for his overdue holiday. He has just booked his air ticket to go to Hong Kong, where he is planning to relax and rest for 10 days at the end of August…

He really wishes that his Hong Kong trip brings some peace of mind, and perhaps makes him more prepared to take some of scary decisions that he needs to take… He will surely sleep a lot, and will indulge himself with his favourite activity, which is getting lost in a big, unknown city, where one can just wander, stop and observe people’s daily lives… He hopes that both Hong Kong and Macau – which he also is planning visiting – will offer many such opportunities.

‘It is time to stop feeling self-pity for today’ – decided Kacper. ‘Now that I am going to Hong Kong, and I will have a chance to rest there… all what I have to do is getting as much work done as possible, before I travel’ he wanted to appear practical, and started listing things, he needs to get involved with in next two weeks:

- Finish reading 3 units of his SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London), and start preparing for examinations in October

- Prepare for signing contracts for project delivery with local partners in Swat, Buner DIK and Tank districts

- Finalise contract signing for funding with ECHO (European Commission’s Humanitarian Office), Canadian Government, and other donors

- Recruit all new livelihoods and water sanitation personnel for new project areas

- Finalise preparing financial analysis for expenditures of implemented projects

- Preparing for visit of the International Director from the headquarters

- Arranging for a field visit in Buner, and checking the progress of activities…

He looked at his list, and felt better. His tasks will surely keep him very busy, and within no time, he will be packing for his exotic trip – where he will be able to rest and sort himself out. ‘No need to feel miserable – just need to push myself a bit more, and soon, I will be resting and getting better again’ he thought more optimistically.

Kacper sat in front of his SOAS book, and started going through his second unit of the human resources management course – there was no time to waste after all…

PS. Kacper is moved by reading stories of ‘Warsaw Uprising’ veterans that he found on the Internet.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Silent heroines - Post 45


My Feudal Lord by Tehmina Durrani certainly made Kacper think; more so, it challenged his views on situation of women in certain parts of the world. Obviously, before reading the book, he had had a good understanding that women are frequently underprivileged, neglected, not empowered, and subject to abuse, but this is My Feudal Lord that forced Kacper to imagine how lives of such women really looked like.

While reading the novel, Kacper got really upset quite a few times. ‘Men are bustards…’ – angrily and uncontrollably crossed his mind regularly throughout each and every chapter. Realising that the question of abuse and inequality of women is a very difficult and sensitive issue to be tackled, as it involved cultural, social and often religious considerations, he also felt that men consciously used the cultural factors to be their excuse of mistreating their wives, daughters, even mothers and other women far too often.

Kacper thought of women that he knew that suffered profoundly, just because of their gender. He didn’t need to look far. His own mother, both grandmothers, aunts, and some of his cousins did experience physical abuse from those, who they loved the most – their husbands, boyfriends, partners, but also fathers…It is true that while most of these courageous women, whom were in Kacper’s family eventually managed to stand up for their rights and take control of their rights, their fights were always dramatic, and often heartbreaking for themselves, and for other people that they cared for. ‘Now, if gender based violence is still a reality in Poland – where people are reasonably educated, and where abused women have to their disposal fairly many official, and less official tools, systems and resources to reinforce fair treatment and personal protection … how difficult it must be in places, where much less of similar systems are in place…?’ – the question kept on bothering Kacper’s consciousness.

‘Kacper, are you hungry? Shall we eat lunch together’ Ghazala encouraged him to go down to their office canteen. Ghazala was an extremely beautiful middle-aged woman, whose origins were of Lahore – the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab. The way she dressed, talked, and behaved showed that she must have come from a very affluent and wealthy family. Kacper soon learnt that Ghazala was very well travelled. She spent her childhood in various countries in Africa and Europe, where she lived with her family, whose head – Ghazala’s father worked for the diplomatic service of Pakistan. She was educated in some best schools, one could ever dream of, with her master’s degree obtained from the Harvard University in the USA.

‘I love my chicken kebabs here…the food is so well prepared and tasty’ Kacper started the conversation. ‘You should also try our chicken biryani’ Ghazala kindly suggested. ‘How is your week so far?’ she then asked. ‘I can see that you are very busy. It is difficult to speak to you, you are always running around doing something’ noticed Ghazala. ‘Things are fine, really. I am a bit tired, but things are actually going well’ assured Kacper. ‘Besides work, I have just finished reading My Feudal Lord…Do you know, which book I am referring to?’ asked Kacper, hoping that Ghazala would be happy to tell him what she thought of the novel. ‘Of course, I know it Kacper, many women in Pakistan know this book…’ she looked into Kacper’s eyes. ‘And what did you think of it?’ she asked. ‘Well, I loved it, but also found it disturbing, very disturbing’ he answered. Ghazala smiled… ‘It might be disturbing, but for us here, it is just a fair description of what ladies in this country go through every day, what our society finally needs to confront and deal with’ she noticed. ‘You will be interested to know that I know the author of the book personally’ she added with a smile. ‘Wow… how come?’ Kacper was impressed and curious. ‘I will tell you some other time…’ Ghazala’s face suddenly saddened. She remained silent for a while. Kacper didn’t want to rush the conversation, so he concentrated his attention on his plate. ‘You know by now that I come from a very privileged background in so many ways… I travelled, received impeccable education, had money: more that I could ever spend…’ she started. Ghazala smiled at Kacper and went on talking, talking about her ordeal that she and her family went through…

When Ghazala went to the United States, her father already decided that right at the end of her course, she would return to Pakistan and get married. Her husband-to-be was 45 – over twenty years older than Ghazala. He was a very wealthy landowner, who seemed to rule half of Punjab. He also possessed properties in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and Australia. Ghazala’s father couldn’t imagine a better candidate to marry her daughter. Hence the marriage deal was struck quickly. The only problem was that Ghazala was not at all aware of what fate her father was preparing for her. Needless to say, she had never heard of, not to mention meeting her future husband before they married. When she finally graduated, and was a proud holder of her degree, the news of her marriage was revealed to her. ‘But dad, I can’t marry now…You educated me, you let me experience the world, you taught me to be independent, and now you want me to get married to some man that I have never heard of… someone who is 25 years older than I am…? Never!’ she finally exclaimed. It was the first time in her life that she was hit… ‘Kacper, I was beaten many times in my life later, my husband bet me regularly – it was all horrible, but this first slap in my face, the slap from my own father, whom I had trusted and loved so much hurt me the most. It fact, it still hurts me’ she added with a profound sadness.

Ghazala was forced to marry, but she didn’t turn out to be a wife that is easy to have powers over. ‘Right at start, I told my husband that I would never love him, and that I wanted to have as little to do with him as possible…’ she explained. Her resilience was punished. She was regularly beaten and abused. The husband’s family tried to keep her locked in their mansion, limit her movements, reduce contacts with friends, and her own family. Ghazala became a prisoner, a prisoner of her own husband. Soon, she gave birth to their first son. ‘He was my sunshine, he made my suffering bearable’ she emotionally admitted to Kacper. When she looked after her newborn, she decided that her ordeal needs to finish. Ghazala knew that she needed to do something that could make her happy. ‘I came to a point when I only saw two options: either doing something to liberate myself, or I was going to die. I was ready to commit a suicide – this is how desperate I was!’ – Kacper noticed that her eyes became wet.

‘Kacper, you can’t imagine what was happening, when I filed for a divorce. I was abused even more, my father threatened me, he would cut all ties with me and he wouldn’t allow me see my own mother’ she recalled. Ghazala was lucky though to have some good university friends, who lived in England. They offered her financial support, but also in case she needed it, shelter in their house in London’s Ealing. ‘What I was really disappointed about, was that even if Pakistan officially doesn’t accept the abuse of women, and there are laws protecting women… they really mean nothing… These laws are made by men, and executed by men’ she added bitterly. She then explained how she lost rights to custody of her son; she was accused to be a horrible and incapable mother. She was stripped from all possessions, and left literally penniless within days. ‘It took me years to stand back on my feet again…I was in London for over a year, doing nothing… just trying to heal…’ – she said.

Her friends in London became her new family. She soon was granted an asylum in the UK, and managed to start working. She became a social worker, and provided counselling services to troubled youngsters in London area. Then, she met a handsome Lebanese guy, whom she fell in love with, and to whom she soon got married. ‘I was happy for a first time after so many years’ she recalled. ‘All what I needed was my first son, and my mother… I didn’t miss my father yet, and I certainly didn’t miss my first husband’ – she added. At that point, Ghazala learnt of her father’s death. He died of a heart attack, on his visit to Pakistan. She explained to Kacper that it was a very strange experience. ‘I suffered so much because of him, but when I learnt that he was dead, I felt like a part of me died too. I somehow loved him, and felt so sorry not to be able even to attend his funeral’ – noticed Ghazala. However, the death of the father made it possible for Ghazala and her mother to reunite again. The young couple with Ghazala’s mother settled in Bristol, in western England. They were also blessed with their son, Ghazala’s second baby. Then, she learnt of a job opportunity in Pakistan. She was recruited as a gender consultant in one of the British charities working in South Asia. Ghazala and her family decided to move to Islamabad. ‘This time, I returned to Pakistan as a free and independent woman… and such I have remained until today’ she finished her story proudly.

‘And one more thing Kacper… Just think of it, if life treated me in such a cruel way… imagine how difficult it is for all those women – millions of them, in this country, who come from more traditional families, without means, without education, and awareness of their own rights…This is why our work is so important…this is why your work is important too Kacper… We need to do all in our power to help these silent heroines…at least a bit… knowing that every little helps!’

It was time to finish their lunch break. Kacper went upstairs to his office. His mind was working hard thinking of Ghazala’s pleas of working hard for women in Pakistan. ‘What could I do? How can I contribute at least a little, to make lives of women at least a bit easier?’ Kacper didn’t know the answers, but was sure he would not let it go… he would try best he could!

PS. Kacper is watching Obama’s visit to Ghana.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Paternal love - Post 44


‘Daddy, my back is so sore… please hold my hand, and do not go anywhere!’ – demanded little Mo. ‘I am staying here, right here with you son’ answered Faisal fondly and smiled. They conversed in their native Farsi, and although Mo’s nurse couldn’t understand a word of the son – father interaction, she was touched seeing the paternal love that Faisal showed to his son. She approached Mo’s bed, adjusted tubes of his drip and handed him a teddy bear. ‘This is a little friend for you, and he will guard at night, when you sleep’ she said in English. Faisal thanked the nurse and explained to his son what the nurse had just tried to tell him. Mo’s eyes lightened up. He took his soft toy into his arms, looked at the woman and timidly murmured: ‘tashakor’ (thank you). ‘You are very welcome dear’ answered the nurse without waiting for his father’s interpretation. She left the room, and Faisal was again alone with his son. Mo was becoming tired, but the medicines made him feel less pain. He was falling asleep.

Faisal was exhausted but moved, and very happy. A while earlier, he spoke to the doctors, and they told him that the operation of his son had been very successful. It was likely that Mo would suffer from some nuisances throughout his life – he might not be able to regain control of his physiological needs, and he will always need to use nappies, but he will live, and he will be able to walk! Faisal looked out of the window, looked at busy streets of New York, and for a first time, he properly realised that he actually was thousands of kilometres away from home, away from his wife, and other children. They arrived from Afghanistan to the United States just mere two weeks earlier. They came here on invitation of one of the USA’s medical organisations, which helps running a paediatric ward at the Indira Ghandi Hospital of Kabul. It was where a group of American doctors met Mo and Faisal, and this is where, after initial examinations; they offered Mo’s family that he could be taken to New York for a highly specialised spine surgery.

‘You can’t even imagine, what I was going through with Mo, before we finally went to the USA’ – Faisal continued telling his story at Kacper’s hotel room in Islamabad. ‘It was all so strange… before Mo was born; I nearly hadn’t noticed that I was a father to four kids. They were all healthy, and my wife looked after them most of the time, while I was busy supporting the family financially…’ Faisal stopped and sipped his tea. He then explained that one day Mo started crying and he would simply not stop. At first, the parents thought that perhaps, their baby’s teeth started growing, but then realised that their son was simply unwell. They visited many doctors all over Kabul, however no one could really find out what the reason of constant crying was. Mo in the meanwhile was getting worse. Soon, the horrified parents realised that their little one was getting paralysed.

Faisal and his son eventually ended up in one the capital’s hospitals, whose doctors mainly came from France. After initial investigations, they advised that Faisal should arrange for his son to undergo more advanced check-ups in Pakistan’s capital – Islamabad. Luckily, compared with many other Afghans, Faisal was relatively well off, and he actually had means to travel to the neighbouring country, and pay for necessary medical procedures. Faisal and Mo soon set off to Islamabad, where they stayed with Faisal’s Pakistani friend’s family, who looked after them, and helped them enormously by driving them around the city. The investigations were completed in just a few days, and Faisal and Mo were on their way back to Kabul soon after.

Faisal handed a big brown envelope with results of his son’s investigations to the doctor. After a while of studying, the doctor bluntly announced to Faisal that Mo’s spine was attacked by a tumour that grew on it. The tumour pressed some of his son nerves, which in turn started causing Mo’s lower parts of his body being paralysed. ‘At that point, I passed out’ recalled Faisal. ‘Kacper, this was like the end of the world to me… my hope vanished… How on earth was I to help my son? How could I help him in Afghanistan?’ – Faisal was still disturbed, when he talked of his experience.

The doctors advised that Faisal returned to Pakistan immediately, and that Mo’s tumour is removed at Islamabad’s hospital. ‘Unfortunately, we do not have facilities in Kabul to perform such a sophisticated surgery here… I am really sorry for this news’ added the doctor.

Two weeks later, Mo was operated in Pakistan, and the doctors declared the full success. The boy was barely stitched, but the doctors decided to sign him off from hospital. ‘You can now go back to Afghanistan – the sooner the better!’ – instructed the Pakistani doctor.

The journey home turned out to be long, difficult and tiresome. They travelled in a rented car. Mo was having a very high fever, and Faisal was very worried, as his wound was bleeding a lot – more than Faisal expected to be reasonable. When they reached Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Faisal discovered that American troops involved themselves in some heavy fighting with the Talebans, and the road home was impassable. Somehow desperate, and extremely worried about Mo’s high fever, Faisal and the driver decided to reach Kabul using an alternative route, leading through small villages, and extremely uncomfortable and dangerous hills. They reached Kabul hours later. Little Mo was already unconscious. ‘I was convinced, I was loosing him!’ – Faisal was extremely distressed. ‘We went straight to the Indira Ghandi hospital… I handed Mo to the doctor, and he was already motionless…I couldn’t stop crying’ – he went on.

The doctors discovered that the wound had reopened completely, and that Mo needed another operation really quickly to close it. They decided to perform it there, though they had little tools to do it properly. ‘Somehow, they managed to save my Mo…I was so relieved’ – carried on Faisal. ‘A few days later, the American doctors happened to arrive to the ward, where Mo was’, he smiled. ‘Everything went so quickly afterwards’ – he referred. ‘Ten days later, Mo and I were on our way to New York…’

Kacper looked at Faisal, rather proud of his friend. ‘You are an amazing father, and I am so happy you never gave up on Mo’ he remarked. ‘Mo will never forget you that…just like I will never forget my parents fighting for me, when I was a kid’ he added. Faisal got up from his chair. ‘I need to go back to my friend’s place to check on Mo… He is still so tired after the flight from New York’ he said. ‘I am quite tired too, and need to rest before we start travelling to Kabul again’ – he offered a good-bye hug to Kacper.

PS. Kacper is receiving news of multiple bomb attacks in various places in Pakistan

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Beautiful Persia - Post 43


The Al Jazeera and BBC’s reports on the protests and riots in Iran’s capital Tehran made Kacper think. He was concerned and impressed in the same time. He admired a fact that people have courage to stand up for their beliefs and rights, and obviously was very sad that such demonstrations were needed in a first place. Kacper strongly believes that any major political or social change has got the biggest chance of success, if it is the people themselves that initiate them. He saw many examples of it himself: the revolution that brought the communism down in Poland, the split of Czechoslovakia into two separate states of Czech and Slovak Republics, finding solutions to the ongoing conflict in Aceh – one of the Indonesia’s north-western province. In all of these places and situations, it is mainly the people that stood for the changes that they believed they needed in their existence. Sometimes their actions involved lots of sacrifice – including precious lives, sometimes things were slightly easier, but it is the people’s involvement and clear support of some ideas that led to results that they wished to see.

Of course, Kacper couldn’t predict whether Iran’s present protests would bring any difference right now, but he knew that something important did start, and sooner or later the people’s voices will need to be taken into account, regardless of how much internal, and external powers disliked it. Kacper also knew that many, if not most Iranians didn’t really like what was happening in their beloved country. Although people didn’t necessarily think of adapting, Western style of democracy, or ways of living, it was clear that many didn’t enjoy oppression, abuse of basic human rights, and lack of opportunities of expressing themselves freely.

Interestingly, as all these dramatic and somehow exciting things take place in Iran, Kacper happens to be in a neighbouring Pakistan – the country, whose society struggles with its presence; and is trying to re-invent itself too. It is also Pakistan, from where around 15 years ago, when Kacper was still a student, he and his friends entered Iran for a short visit that lasted just ten days; ten days that allowed him to fall in love with the country and its amazingly friendly people…

The bus that they travelled in obviously had a great deal of technical problems. Whenever the gears were being changed, a very worrying sound of cracking steel accompanied the action. They were just fifteen kilometres from Taftan, a small Beluchistani town on the border between Pakistan and Iran. There was nothing around them but rocks and sand. ‘Goodness me… come on, you can make it’ Kacper tried to encourage their vehicle. ‘Don’t break, until we reach Taftan, please!’ Mariukka did her best to reinforce Kacper’s plea. The whole group of friends travelling from India to Europe, of which Kacper was a part, was slightly stressed and worried. Their Pakistani visas were expiring the following day, and they needed to enter Iran latest the in the evening of that day, to avoid trouble with the Pakistani immigration system. After all, none of them wanted to experience doubtful pleasures of staying in Pakistan’s jails for being illegal immigrants!

Mariukka pointed her fingers at the sign on the road. It read ‘Taftan’. ‘We made it!’ thought Kacper. He had imagined the town would look somehow different. In fact, he was not sure whether Taftan could be referred to as a town in a first place. Along the paved road, there were some huts built out of mud. They accommodated small shops selling tea, snacks, and cigarettes. Except these shops, there was literally nothing else… As they drove on, they noticed some kind of a structure that looked like a gate. ‘This must be a border crossing’ Kacper decided in his mind. ‘We have made it… we will not overstay our Pakistani visas’ stated Richard – Kacper’s English friend. They stopped their bus right in front of a building that had a sign, which read ‘IMMIGRATION SERVICE OF THE ISLAMIC REPUCLIC OF PAKISTAN’, and turned the engine off.

‘You can not cross to Iran today’ informed the Pakistani officer. ‘The post is closed, and you can only cross tomorrow after nine in the morning… the post is open between nine in the morning, until five in the afternoon’ he added. ‘But sir, it is not five o’clock yet… we still have over one hour until five’ noticed Mariukka politely. ‘Our officers are busy now’ he pointed at three men drinking tea, obviously preparing for a nap. ‘Sir, will you allow us crossing tomorrow, our Pakistan visas will expire then’ asked worried Kacper. ‘Don’t worry about anything’ added the officer reassuringly. ‘You will sleep in Taftan tonight and leave for Iran then… just park your bus, over there, off the road, so you don’t block it’ he added. ‘Surely, we are not blocking traffic here…there are no cars around’ thought Kacper to himself, but said nothing. Instead, Richard started the engine, and tried to move the bus to the place, where he had been advised. Although, the engine seemed to work, the bus wouldn’t move. Richard pressed the accelerator, released the clutch… the bus just refused moving, even the slightest bit… ‘I think that we are in trouble…’ he whispered to Kacper and the rest of the group. He tried again, but the second attempts wasn’t more encouraging. The group decided to push their bus to the parking space. As they were ready to start their hard work, Richard decided to check the reverse gear…to their surprise, the bus moved! Well, it moved backward rather than forward, but it did move! As the space around them allowed it, Richard started manoeuvring the bus so he could reach the parking spot moving on the reverse gear. The whole exercise looked rather strange but amusing. Even the sleepy Pakistani officers seemed to have enjoyed the situation, and got up from their beds to help giving directions, so that Richard could successfully park his large vehicle… The Iranian officers, on the other side of the border also got interested, and they observed the whole situation from behind the gate cheering and commenting on their efforts.

‘Do you have any garage shops in here?’ asked Mariukka to the post guards. They all smiled… ‘Madam… here in Taftan… there is nothing except what you see around you’ they pointed at the stalls and shops. ‘There is a town on the other side of the border though, and they have got garages there’ he added. The Iranians overheard the conversation. ‘Do not worry, when you reach Iran, we will help’ one of them smiled encouragingly. ‘Gee… but how are we going to reach Iran… our bus can not drive forward…’ wondered Kacper. ‘Stop worrying man… we will enter Iran on the reverse gear’ declared Richard. ‘This is not happening…’ thought Kacper. ‘Richard, you are mad’ he stated and kept thinking of possible solutions.

Next morning, the Pakistani officers knocked at the door of their bus. Kacper was already up, and was looking at the sunrise. The guys came with tea. ‘Please do invite all of your friends to come out and join us for breakfast’ he encouraged him. A few minutes later, they all sat on the mat, in front of the border post, and enjoyed tea, and ate chapatti with some spicy sauce. Kacper loved the hospitality of the officers. Perhaps, they were not very helpful, as professionals, but they certainly seemed extremely friendly.

‘Can we start our immigration procedures, so we can leave Pakistan?’ asked Kacper. ‘But you cannot travel. Your bus is broken’ noticed one of them. ‘We will be fine, we shall push the bus, or enter Iran on the reverse gear’ announced Richard. He sounded so confident that no one questioned it. ‘This is a good idea!’ exclaimed one of the officers. ‘In this way, you will not overstay your visas’ – he genuinely didn’t seem to want his guests to be in trouble.

As they were looking at passports of their strange visitors, the officers were asking about their countries and about their families. ‘Will you take me to Europe with you?’ asked one officer completely openly and seriously. ‘Sir, you know that this is not that easy…and that we cannot promise you that. I can promise however that I will return to your beautiful country one day’ added Kacper and smiled. ‘Yes, Pakistan is very beautiful’ he added. This made the officer quite pleased, and he stamped Kacper passport happily, without much fuss.

All girls put their scarves on. They entered the bus, which was already parked on the road… with its rear side towards the border gate and Iran, and front facing Pakistan. It looked like if they had just entered Pakistan, rather than were about to leave it…The gate opened, and they all waved to the smiling officers… they started moving backward… they were leaving Pakistan, and entering Iran – the country that seemed to all of them slightly scary and worrying. They were entering the land of Islamic Sharia Law; the land, where the foreigners are supposedly not liked…This was happening, in a slightly unusual fashion. They just could hope that the Iranian officials will not be very upset with them bringing a bus that is broken…

The officers on duty did their best to help Richard steer the bus, so he doesn’t drive into any building, or hole. As he succeeded to enter Iran safely, they all cheered and clapped. ‘You are now leaving Iran. We hope to see you again!’ read Kacper. ‘Yes, we are entering, not leaving… but it is a friendly looking sign’ he thought.

The Iranians offered their new visitors tea. The girls didn’t know how to behave really. Iran indeed earned its reputation to be very oppressive towards women – at least in eyes of an average Western citizen. They all felt a bit awkward. None of them thought of Iran to be particularly friendly and welcoming, and they didn’t know how to read the overwhelming friendliness of the guards. ‘Can our friends, I mean, our sisters come and join us for tea as well?’ asked Kacper. ‘But of course, why not?’ the officer looked rather surprised by the question. ‘You are all our dear guests, and we hope that you will all have a wonderful time in Iran’ he added with a smile.

Kacper passport was carefully examined by one of the officer. He looked at his Iranian visa, and then at its cover. ‘Which country?’ he asked. ‘Poland’ answered Kacper. ‘Ah…’ the officer added with a blunt face. ‘Which country again?’ he repeated. ‘Eh… Poland… Polonia, Polsza, Polen…’ he kept on saying in all languages he could think of. ‘Eh…’ nodded the man with a face showing confusion. He then disappeared with the passport. Kacper was slightly uneasy about it. ‘What was so unusual about Poland in Iran?’ he worried. The guard returned shortly. He brought a big wall map of the world! He unfolded it, and asked again. ‘Show where is your country?’ Kacper looked confused, but he pointed at Poland and said ‘This is where I am from.’ ‘Ahh… Bolanda’ he exclaimed rather happily. Bolanda… Lech Walesa… very good!’ he kept on excited. Kacper smiled. ‘Yes, Walesa is our leader’ he added politely, trying to remember that Bolanda meant ‘Poland’ in Persian language.

They were all stamped in, and officially in Iran. They couldn’t go very far though, their bus was still broken. ‘This is Youssuf… he is a mechanic. We called him yesterday, in anticipation that you would be entering in a broken vehivle. He can help you fix your bus’ one of the officers introduced a friendly looking man. All of the travellers from the group were surprised and overwhelmed by how thoughtful and helpful the Iranian officials were. This didn’t fit with their perceptions of the scary Iranian regime. ‘This is a good omen’ thought Kacper. He started liking the country already!

Days later, when Kacper with his friends were leaving Iran for Turkey, they all appeared sad that they time in Iran had passed so fast. Their trip had exposed them to the country that seemed be one of the most hospitable and amazing places they had a chance to experience. In all places; villages and towns like Bam, Tehran or Esfahan, they were always welcomed with an amazing generosity and hospitality. People were curious of them, and eager to teach them about their amazing history; show the beautiful architecture of their towns and markets; landscapes; and finally proudly introduce them to their own families. What had struck Kacper was that everywhere they went; he would hear very open opinions of Iranians about how unhappy they were with the regime. Most people consistently kept on repeating that they want different Iran for their children… Iran that is more open and less oppressive. He head these opinions from poorer and richer citizens… To Kacper, it was clear. Although, there were people, who supported the regime, most were unhappy about it and wanted to see THE CHANGE!

‘Come on Iran!’ thought Kacper, when he watched, yet another report from Tehran. ‘I can’t do more… but my heart is with you – I hope that you can create a country that you believe is best for your children’ he whispered to himself, still thinking of his Iranian adventure that he enjoyed so much 15 years ago.


PS. Kacper is overworked and exhausted.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Liberty - Post 42


Kacper was exhausted. He still didn’t manage to overcome his jetlag after the trip from Poland to Pakistan. ‘I wonder what is wrong with me… There are only four hours of time difference between Nowy Sacz and Islamabad, I should have overcome the nuisance of time a different time zone’ he thought. For a week now, Kacper kept on going to bed around 1 o’clock at night, and then would be really tired in the mornings and throughout the day. Stressful security in the country, and to some extend lots of difficult decisions that Kacper needed taking every day at his new project didn’t allow him relax sufficiently either. He would finish his working day late at night, go home, and instead of forgetting about day’s problems, he kept on thinking of them, which didn’t help falling asleep.

‘I need to learn to relax a bit… otherwise, I will burn out quickly’, crossed his mind. Kacper already had his first signs of tiredness. His bowel was discharging small amounts of blood, something that Kacper needed to take seriously, so he doesn’t end up in an operation theatre as he did two years earlier in Bangladesh…(Post 34). ‘Yes, another operation is a last thing I want at the moment’ he decided.

Kacper’s return to Pakistan was proving to be more difficult emotionally that he thought it would be. He has been to the country many times before. He first visited the place in middle of 90’ies. He then kept of flying to Peshawar on various occasions in 1999, when he worked in Afghanistan, and eventually, he came here again in 2006, with his previous organisation, when he worked for benefit of victims of the earthquake that had hit the country in 2005.

His travels to this country involve many memories. Some bit dramatic (Post 19), but mostly very happy, and funny ones too. Seeing Pakistan in so much trouble was naturally heart breaking to him… Saddest of all was that most of Pakistanis were quite negative about the future of their country – something that he had never experienced before. People in Islamabad, Lahore, Quetta, or Peshawar always appeared happy and optimistic, even during times that were surely difficult for the country – like the aftermath of the earthquake. ‘What is happening now?’ he asked himself, without being able to find sensible answers.

Today in the office, together with his team, he was working on possible scenarios on how the humanitarian situation might develop in the country. They were doing the exercise to ensure that Kacper’s organisation prepares itself for responding to crises possibly in the most effective way. There were some gloomy pictures of what might happen. To start with, the present situation is already quite dire and gloomy. Around 3 million people needed to run away from towns and villages, where they originally came from. Many of them lost members of their families, got injured, not to mention loosing earthy possessions that they needed for supporting themselves, or their families. Truly dramatic and sad!

Unfortunately, more misery is likely to happen. Most analyses show that it will not be safe for people to return to their homes for many months to come. That means continuous squatting in camps, or with families, which decided to give the displaced a helping hand by offering space in their own households.

What is very disturbing is that the number of displaced people is only likely to increase in coming months. The Government of Pakistan plan other military operations against the Talebans in Wazaristan (part of western Pakistan), which in turn is expected to produce additional 1.5 million of displaced people. ‘Mum, imagine 1,5 million human beings, 1,5 million of individuals – that is a population larger than Krakow – that need to flee their homes, their lives, their jobs, their daily duties… And this is already adding to present displaced… that is to a population that is as big as Warsaw!’ Kacper tried to explain via telephone, when his mother enquired about his present work.

If this was not bad enough, Pakistan was preparing for possible flooding that might become a reality just in a few months’ time. Indeed the Monsoon Season was coming, and heavy rains are likely to cause a massive climatic displacement of thousands of people. Adding threats of exploding bombs that keep on happening in all corners of the country, and no wonder that people are pessimistic.

Kacper got his disc with songs of Marek Grechuta. The CD nearly never fails helping him unwind, and take some perspective to problems.

‘I wish that when I leave the country, despite all odds, people will feel happier about their prospects… It needs to happen, things need to get better!’ Kacper needed to start feeling positive himself first… He closed his eyes, and got involved with the lyrics of Grechuta’s ‘The Liberty’.


PS. Kacper loved the pictures of his niece that he received by email.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Welcome to Pakistan - Post 41


‘Why are there so few people in the market, sir?’ Kacper asked the shop owner; in one of the Islamabad’s most popular trading areas, called Gina Market. ‘Last time, I was in Pakistan in 2006, this place was full of people, especially on Saturdays, like today’ he added. ‘This is because of our security. People are scared to be in public places, as we are worried of bomb blasts’ explained the older man. All of the sudden his face became sad. ‘Things are not going well in Pakistan these days… Inch’Allah (God willing), we will overcome these difficulties, and Pakistan will be safer again’ he added with some hope in his voice. ‘Pakistanis are wonderful people, and I am sure, they will be able to sort problems of their country soon’ Kacper wanted to sound as positive as he could. He paid his bill at the counter, and left the shop. Together with his Bangladeshi friend and colleague, Sadhan they decided to walk around the marker a bit more. They both wanted to buy some DVDs with movies. ‘Sadhan, this is absolutely crazy. This is not Islamabad I remember. Ordinary people seem to be scared, and there is such a strange feeling… What is striking me is that it is not only the foreigners that panic about their own security, the Pakistanis themselves seem to be very concerned, and this is worrying’ went on Kacper, somehow not yet able to acknowledge the new situation that he is finding in Pakistan. Sadhan just nodded his head. ‘Yes, this feels very strange’ he agreed.

Later that afternoon, Kacper went home, and decided to read some documents related to the humanitarian situation of the internally displaced people coming from the Swat Valley. He had around 3 hours to do so. He would then go for a dinner with his two new colleagues he was going to work with – both public health specialists. Kacper’s organisation in Pakistan tried to provide some basic services like access to water, and sanitation to around 25,000 families, who fled from areas, where the military operations were taking place. Naturally, public health professionals were of key importance to design and implement such projects. Before engaging himself in some documents, he decided to have a look at the Dawn, one of Pakistan’s daily newspapers. 40 People killed in blast in the mosque… A time bomb destroys a school for girls in Peshawar… Two members of MOM party killed in a terrorist attack in Karachi…The police convoy in Northern Territories attacked. Many police officers injured, and some killed… - read titles of various articles all over the newspaper. ‘Goodness me! This is just one edition of a daily, and all these horrific news are here!’ he noticed to the receptionist of the Bed & Breakfast he stayed in. ‘Sir, this is normal. All editions of daily newspapers look similar in Pakistan these days…’ the guy paused for a second. ‘Many of us stop reading the news, as they are too difficult to handle. Sometimes it is better not to know…’ he explained to Kacper. ‘We will look after you here though, sir. You should not worry! We are happy, you are in Pakistan with us’, he reassured Kacper.

‘Are you ready Kacper?’ asked Osman on the phone. ‘We are now coming with a car to pick you up, and then we can move to the restaurant for our dinner’ he informed Kacper. ‘We have already done the security clearance for the restaurant for tonight, so we don’t need to worry about it anymore’ he let Kacper know. ‘Fantastic! I am looking forward to be going out with you’, he was genuinely excited.

They all placed their orders. Kacper looked out to the street. It was still light. More people appeared on the street, obviously enjoying a pleasant evening and temperature. ‘This is so odd…Things seem to be so quiet, yet everyone is worried all the time, about how insecure it is…’ wondered Kacper. ‘Yes, we live in strange times… You just need to get used to it, and be vigilant all the time’ answered Osman. ‘Once you are really busy with our humanitarian response, you will stop noticing how odd it is here, and just get by with your life’ he went on.

Osman, Mary (Zimbabwean colleague), and Kacper started chatting away. In order to break initial ice, and make the atmosphere a bit cosier, Kacper started talking about his previous work experience. The two colleagues relaxed quickly, and also begun sharing their previous work experiences from various parts of the world. The conversation was very casual, and it seemed like, the three started feeling very comfortable with each other’s company. ‘It seems like, I will be working with a very nice team here…’ thought Kacper gratefully. ‘They are both really nice people’ he was very pleased.

As they were about to pay their bill, nearly simultaneously their mobile telephones started beeping – announcing that text messages arrived. They all looked at each other, and reached the phones. Security Alert: The bomb blast in Islamabad, Sector H8. Please confirm you are ok, and return to your respective residences as soon as possible. Thank you for your cooperation. Ahmed. ‘I guess, we need to be going home’, Osman stated slightly annoyed. Their car was already waiting for them in front of the restaurant.

Back at home, Kacper tuned to one of the TV news channels. Ambulances, crowds of people, running policemen… A suicide bomb attack took place in front of the Police Head Quarters in Islamabad’s H8 Sector. Although three people died, and additional 4 are injured, it is believed that the police prevented a major disaster, by shooting at the attacker at the yard of their compound. The attacker detonated bombs strapped to his body, as police started firing shots at him… ‘It seems like, the deployment in Pakistan has got a potential to keep me busy…’ came through Kacper’s mind, before went to bed. ‘We will be fine, we will all be fine’ he went on thinking about challenges of his work.

PS. Kacper has just returned from the Polish Embassy, where he voted in the European Parliamentary elections.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The Most Beautiful Thing - Post 40


‘You are the most beautiful thing on the globe’ Kacper’s mother greeted him in the morning. ‘Happy Children’s Day’, she added. Kacper smiled. ‘Mum, I am 36 years old… Kind of difficult to justify that it is my holiday’ he teased her. She embraced him, and kissed his cheek. ‘You will always be my child, and I am so very proud of you’ she told him. She paused for a while, and her thoughts seemed to have taken her somewhere far. ‘I am very lucky to have two sons like you and your brother’, mum became slightly emotional. ‘No, not at all Mama’ Kacper interrupted. ‘It is us, who are so very lucky to have you and Tata as our parents’ he reassured her. She got up from a chair, where she had sat a moment earlier and suggested: ‘Let’s have some really nice breakfast’.

Kacper smiled again, when he thought of his mother calling him The Most Beautiful Thing. This is how she always referred to him, this is how she would address letters or emails to him, and this is how she called him, whenever he was sad or unhappy in hospitals that he used to stay in. Of course, when he was a teenager, he was ashamed of his nickname. ‘Mum, stop calling me like that… at least in front of friends…’ he used to beg her. Today though, whenever he hears her referring to him as The Most Beautiful Thing, he recalls his most wonderful moments of childhood, and he thinks of passing time.

‘God, I am 36… where is all the time gone?’ he sometimes wonders. He looks at his slowly ageing parents. ‘I am so glad that they have comfortable lives now’ comes through his mind. He only knows too well, how difficult things used to be in the past. Kacper always required lots of care. His medical condition made him stay in various hospitals around the country for over a decade. As a baby, and later an older child, Kacper’s body was so weak and deformed that many doctors didn’t give him much chance of surviving past the age of fifteen. He only learnt how to walk at the age of five. At the age of eleven, he started the series of complicated surgeries, which physically transformed him into being a fairly normal looking kid. He still remembers, once, when he woke up after a long operation at the Polyclinic of the Jagiellonian University in Zakopane, all of the sudden he became 12 centimetres taller… His chest and back humps were dramatically reduced, and he could actually get up, and stand straight without his nose touching his knees…

All of these miracles were only possible because of his parents. It is especially his mother, who fought for him, and decided to never give in. ‘Kacper, you are just a normal kid… perhaps with some more physical challenges than some of your friends, but you are a normal kid! Moreover, you can achieve in life, whatever you can only dream of, as long as you work hard to get it’ she tirelessly kept on teaching him. Today, Kacper is convinced that she needed these teachings herself, she needed them to be strong, and to be able to go through all obstacles that her fate prepared for her – obstacles that in communist Poland were not necessarily easy to face.

‘We will need to operate your son, but there is very little likelihood that we succeed’ the doctor told mum and dad at the private meeting at her Zakopane office. ‘We have no choice however. Should you decide not to go for this surgery, Kacper’s health will deteriorate fast, and he is likely to die within 6 months to 1 year’ she added. ‘I need to be honest that his surgery will be complicated, and many things may go wrong, but I strongly believe that we need to offer him this chance’ she tried to convince them. She then explained that she was going to involve one of the French humanitarian organisations to help them finance some of the sophisticated tools that they needed for performing the surgery. It was the middle of 1981, and Poland was heading towards the total economical and political meltdown. The meltdown that stripped hospitals from funding, and access to technology that they desperately needed for helping their own patients effectively. ‘I would like to suggest that we perform the surgery, as soon as we have all the means to do so’ she went on. ‘There is no question… of course, we agree for this surgery, and we only hope that we shall be able to be helpful in raising funds for it’ Kacper’s parents agreed at once.

‘Darling, you do not need to worry about money’ Auntie Marysia told Kacper’s mother on the phone (Auntie Marysia is featured in Post 31). ‘We will borrow you anything you might need to have, and then, I will arrange work for you here in Montreal, so you can come over and save some more money for further treatment’ she tried to be as helpful as she possibly could. ‘Darling, you don’t need to cry, we will go through it together, I will help you as much as I can’ she calmed crying mum down.

With the support coming from the French humanitarian organisation, combined with the loan from Auntie Marysia in Canada, the doctors were ready for the surgery just two months later. ‘Now, the only thing that you need to worry about is that we do a good job… and I would like to promise you that we will do all in our power to save Kacper’ the doctor tried to be as optimistic as she could.

‘Mum, when am I going to have the operation? I want to have it now, and I want to get better, so I can go home and play with other kids – this is what you used to demand, when I was visiting you in Zakopane’ mum told Kacper years later. ‘I was so scared of listening to this… Of course, I couldn’t tell you how serious the things were… However, you wanting the operation so much made me feel a bit less worried’ she would later explain.

On 12th December 1981, Kacper had his surgery. When he woke up in the intensive care unit, he saw many of the nurses crying. ‘What is happening? Am I now well? Why are you crying?’ he asked. ‘No, no child, you are doing very well, in fact, you make me hope things will be fine, you are our SUNSHINE… it is just that I am worried that our country is going into the civil war…’ she stroke Kacper’s head. ‘The Marital Law arrived when you were in the hospital… Of course, life always used to do it to us…’ mum smiled. ‘One worry was not enough… we worried of you, and then we worried about what was happening in the country’ she added. She then recalled that she couldn’t even visit Kacper in the hospital, and therefore she didn’t know how the operation went for a long while. ‘The telephone lines were cut, and they imposed travel restrictions on all citizens… I couldn’t visit you for nearly 2 weeks’ mum had tears in her eyes.

Around 2 years later, when Kacper was already getting better, mum left to Canada for a year. She went to Montreal to work as an illegal caretaker of an old Jewish lady of Polish origins. Although, her employers turned out to be some wonderful people, and became friends of the family, mum recalls the time in Canada to be the most difficult in her whole life. ‘I missed you guys so much, I didn’t want to be there, just had no choice… I needed to repay the debts’ she explained. ‘Good news was that I was lucky enough to make enough to give the money back, and to earn more to bring back to Poland to help the family a bit’ mum added proudly.

Kacper looked out of the window at the beautiful garden, and blossoming flowers. ‘I am here, and I can do whatever I do in life, just because of stubbornness of my mother…’ he thought. ‘I just hope that I will be able to provide to mum and dad as long as they need it, so that they can enjoy some comforts at least when they grow older’ he sincerely hoped.

‘The Most Beautiful Thing’, mum called Kacper. ‘Come over and join us for breakfast’ she invited.


PS. Kacper is preparing for his departure to Islamabad.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Loved ones dealing with your work - Post 39


‘Bombs are exploding all over Pakistan… Do your parents know? Have you told them that you will be going to Islamabad yet?’ asked Anita (Kacper’s very good friend from Germany) in her email. Kacper was indeed worried about how he was going to tell his family about spending 6 months in the country. They already know Kacper would be going there, and it was hard enough… Adding that Kacper would spend in Pakistan SIX MONTHS seemed like a very difficult thing to accept for people around him, so Kacper is still contemplating, when and how to reveal this information…

Kacper is quite excited about working in Pakistan again, but he does understand why his parents are worried. The media do not portrait the situation in the country very favourably, and then, it was in Pakistan that Kacper was once kidnapped (Post 19). Then, if it was not enough, his family keeps on talking about the case of a Polish engineer, who had been beheaded by the Talebans in Pakistan, just a few months ago. He realises it is difficult, and tries dealing with it too. He therefore is explaining that Islamabad is much safer than the rest of the country, that most of people are actually extremely friendly and helpful, that the security regulations of his organisations are very strict and that there is generally little likelihood that things would go wrong. These awareness campaigns usually help for some time… at least until next piece of news from the media.

Dealing with parents, friends, and people that you love is not easy, when you are far away, especially in places, where communication is not readily available. As Kacper’s mother became computer and Internet literate, it is more and more challenging explaining to her about wars, and insecurities in places where he works. She just opens online news services and finds out that there was a fighting in such and such place, and that possibly her son might have been there. As Kacper sometimes doesn’t have the same information that media in Poland broadcast, it happens that his reactions to reassure his family come too late…

‘Kacper, I think that you need to call your mother as soon as you can. I think she is worried of you…’ asked his boss in Khartoum on the radio. Kacper was in Wau, in southwestern part of Sudan. ‘Great’ he thought. ‘How am I going to do that…’ he answered. ‘The telephone here has not been working for last 10 days, and there is no way that I can get in touch with anyone overseas at the moment’ he added. ‘Can’t I call your parents and tell them that you were okey? The telephones in Khartoum work well, and I can happily do that…’ offered Pierre. ‘That would be great, except that they will not understand a word of what you say’ explained Kacper. ‘Here is what we can do though’ – an idea came to his mind. He asked Pierre to get in touch with his Polish friend, who lived in Khartoum, and give her his parents’ phone number, so that she could call and leave a message in Polish that he was fine and there was nothing to worry about.

The plan nearly worked. Magda, his Polish friend, managed to call Kacper’s mother, as instructed, but slightly too late… Worried of some fighting that erupted in southern Sudan (information acquired via Polish news), and not having news from her son, mum called the Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Warsaw demanding to find out what was happening to her son, and pressing for an evacuation for him. It was then the Polish MOFA that got in touch with Kacper’s organisation’s headquarters in Paris just to find out that he was sound and fine and that the fighting was actually quite far from where Kacper was.

The Sudan drama was long time ago, and his parents have become more experienced in dealing with their own stress since then. Also, the communication these days is much better, and it is usually possible for Kacper to maintain contacts with his loved ones even in the remotest places on earth (through satellite based systems), so things are a bit easier. This doesn’t mean that Kacper doesn’t have strategies on how to communicate and deal with his parents and family, while travelling. They vary depending on countries he is in, and on available resources around (for example people who can communicate Polish – so that they can call home, if for whatever reason Kacper is not able to do so). Also, as Kacper’s brother speaks decent English these days, things get slightly less stressful for everyone.

Travelling around to remote places has other personal consequences on lives of Kacper’s friends and on his own. He still is extremely sorry to think about his relationship that finished barely a year ago. Although, Kacper is and will be a very good friend with Dominik, who lives in Krakow, and whom he had met in Australia some years ago, their relationship just didn’t make any sense. Dominik is very domestic, and loves his lifestyle in Krakow, while Kacper simply was not ready to settle down in the city, where he thought he wouldn’t be able to find work that would interest him. Both men seemed extremely fond of one another, however thought that long-distance relationship wouldn’t work for them, and therefore decided to end it and become good friends instead.

Kacper certainly loved his job, and enjoyed challenges and lifestyle it involves. It was clear however that the older and more experienced he becomes, the more desire and need for some sort of stability he seemed to require. The day of changes in Kacper’s professional life seems to be inevitable. An unanswered question remains when and what Kacper would need to adjust in his life. Before that happens, Kacper is preparing for his trip to Islamabad!

PS. Kacper is looking out for a DHL parcel from London.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Home Sweet Home - Post 38


‘Everything is looking so green and fresh’ – Kacper was extremely excited to finally have reached Warsaw, after a long journey from N’Djamena. He was in a taxi from the Fryderyk Chopin Airport to the Central Train Station, where he was going to catch an intercity train to Krakow. He was already tired, and a bit sleepy. ‘I will have a nap in the train’ he decided and just a thought of it made him feel better.

Kacper was coming to Poland for around 10 days. He has just completed his humanitarian deployment in Chad, where he worked for people that needed to flee their homes from the areas of eastern Chad and western Sudan, due to local conflicts and wars. He was now preparing, at least mentally, for his next task that he was going to undertake in Pakistan. A massive movement of around one million people in northern part of the country, following the fighting between Taleban militia and the Government of Pakistan caused a humanitarian crisis. Kacper’s organisation along with many other ones are trying to provide to the displaced people with essential services like water, sanitation, health, or food until they are able to return to their towns and villages from where they had fled.

‘This is going to be tough work there’ considered Kacper already in his train. ‘Before the work starts, I will have 10 days of holidays though’ he carried on. ‘I will need to make sure that I will enjoy my time with family and friends to the fullest’ he thought reasonably.

Kacper was going to be quite busy, when he was in Poland this time. He needed to visit a few doctors to check on how his body coped with his last deployment and check his vaccinations. He planned to meet with some people from the University of Warsaw, with whom he is now writing a book on international aid, and the are planning to publish some time in spring 2010. Of course, he was planning to meet with some of his friends from Nowy Sacz, and from Slovakia. At last, Kacper would be busy arranging his trip to Pakistan. Visas, getting tickets, sorting hotels out, shopping – all will take time.

Kacper looked at beautiful old houses of Krakow. His train was approaching the main city’s station. ‘I am so much looking forward to holidays’ he smiled… ‘I definitely need some rest, before Pakistan’ he picked his suitcase, and waited until the train would stop at the station. Kacper was home!


PS. Kacper was pleased with his trip to Slovakia that he had today.