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.