Updates and news

Packing and preparing for the trip to Europe

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An evening walk at Cinta Costera, while preparing for the trip to Europe, Panama City, Panama, August 2021


Covid test, check; bags packed, check; out of office message set, check…

I am ready to be travelling to Portugal tomorrow. It is a stressful and busy packing. The earthquake in Haiti has put lots of pressure and additional work on us, and it has been hard to follow everything, I need to admit, also because my attention and mind is in Afghanistan these days…

There is so much being told about Talibans and the country, and clearly it brings my memories from that country too. Some of you know, or may remember that I used to live and work in Afghanistan in 1999 (for a year), meaning that I have some experience of life under the rule of Taliban.

You will not be that surprised to read, I gather that I join the opinion of mistrusting the recent statements of the Talibans on respecting rights of women, or not taking a revenge on people who had thought against them. I still vividly remember their ill treatment of people who dared thinking differently and cruelty of punishments that they exercised on people, who had committed crimes within the framework they established. Above all however, I remember Taliban being corrupt and not respecting the rules they established themselves. So no, I do not believe they have miraculously changed, and yes, I am dead worried about the fate of so many people in the country, especially girls and women, needless to point out.

Let's see what life brings, but I hope that the least that we all can do is supporting actions and forces that would enable those who decide to and manage to flee Afghanistan in creating the new beginnings in their new homes. I wish we all have maturity and compassion to make this happen.

Time to go to Portugal again

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Nazaret, Portugal, April 2019


I am really excited today. I just got my ticket bought, and all the arrangements done for my holiday trip to Europe! I am leaving Panama on 20th August.

Given the COVID restrictions and quarantines, I am not sure whom I will be able to visit, but the minimum plan is to travel to Obidos, and stay there for some weeks. While there, I will be visiting friends, but also I would like to make sure that I will succeed extending my residence permit (if all goes according to plan, I would become a permanent resident of Portugal).

Then, there is a good chance that I will also fly to Krakow and then proceed to Nowy Sacz for few days too, but it depends on a level of restrictions imposed by various authorities. Then finally and ideally, on the way back to Panama, I would like to fly via Toronto in Canada, even if for just 2 days, so that I could visit Tahir!

Let's see what life brings, and what I am able to achieve, but very excited with whatever may come up!

La Soufrière, the Bad Boy

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La Soufrière Volcano, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, August 2021

Although it was Sunday, I had a chance to make it to the north of the Saint Vincent island yesterday, so that I could have a glimpse of my very reason of the visit to this country: the Soufrière Volcano.

You may remember that a little over a month ago, the eruption caused the major havoc in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and across Eastern Caribbean region, forcing thousands of people to flee to the south of the island, as well as to neighbouring Saint Lucia and Barbados, and resulting with substantial destruction of houses, and public infrastructure.

The taxi driver taking me to the north was not too keen to talk about the eruption, until I told him that I was not a regular tourist, but someone who came here to help in recovery work after the disaster.
'So you are here to help to deal with 'the Bad Boy'', he confirmed, and decided to bring me to 'Red Zone' on the western side of the island (less affected), so that I could see some of the destruction and the volcano itself.

But coming to an island, which looks like a paradise, can be tricky, when you come for the humanitarian response. You are distracted by amazing greenery, blue colour of the ocean, gold sand of the beach, and friendly and warm people. Everything looks amazing, and it is easy to forget that people actually struggled to get back on their feet after the disaster ruined their homes and livelihoods. The destruction became clear however. Up there in the north, one could observe tones of sludge (creation of ash being mixed with rain water) covering buildings, fields, beaches and bays. The overwhelming burning smell and clear distress of some of the people I talked to, reminded me that we deal with powerful forces of nature that we can be so vulnerable to.

As of today, I will be looking at the details of the humanitarian response with my colleagues from local and international organisations on the ground. I am sure that their professional experience will allow me understanding challenges the people experience in more depth and will allow us to make sure that our response is adjusted to be as helpful and possible under the circumstances. I will soon be informing you what I will have found out and learnt.