Rafal in Kyrgystan in 2007 (photo from Rafal's FB)
Rafal in Kyrgystan in 2007 (photo from Rafal’s FB)

I’ve known him for many years. He has always been huge, such a brawny guy. He used to come to our office with those huge hands and huge nose and kept joking, all the time. Afterwards he always flew to Libya or Haiti or somewhere else in the world, to help those who have just lost everything – becasue of war, of an earthquake, tsunami or any other humanitarian catastrophe.

I’ve been always wondering how come he keeps joking all the time. How is it possible? How can one be able to watch so much suffering and stand it all? Be able to joke? Come back and behave normally? Simply business as usual. One day I came with this idea that maybe it’s becasue he is so huge and if you are such a huge person then you also have a huge heart and huge space in it for everyone, for all the people of the world. Because Rafal’s first love are people.

He also always seemed a bit away, unrooted. He only happened to be in Warsaw, but never really befriended with. He kept coming and leaving, back to his Silesia. He used to talk to me in Silesian language from time to time and even though I could not understand a word, I used to laugh every time. Although I wondered sometimes when looking at him: “what do you really want to do in Katowice?” But he kept coming back there, to his place. The place where he was building his plan for the future.

The story of our friendship started with Off Festival – the main reason of my visits to Katowice. I happened once to be in a need of a place to stay and even though he couldn’t host me back then, he reserved time to spend with me and my friend Magda. The whole forenoon. This time we have spent together in Silesian Park fruited because of our hours-long discussions. There is usually something coming up as a result of such conversations. This time the result was: 1) Magda left Poland to travel South-East Asia; 2) I started planning an opening of my own foundation (what I’m still planning (hoping?) to do one day!) and left Poland to travel the Middle East; 3) Rafal founded his own business – a company he named Plan Planeta (Plan: the Planet) – to be able to continue acting for people. This time his own way.

Visiting Rafal in Katowice
Visiting Rafal in Katowice

The idea for Plan Planeta was easy – Rafal sells the ethical products (he has t-shirts, socks, jewellery and photographs in his offer at the moment) and shares the income with the organizations that help people suffering from the humanitarian catastrophe. Plan Planeta has been founded half a year ago. Throughout this time Rafal has given 1900 pairs of socks for childern and women suffering from the conflict in the Ukraine (one pair of socks bought is one pair of socks given), supported baking 500 kilograms of bread in Syria for the victims of the civil war and financed 1200 food rations in Nepal for the vistims of the earthquake. Right now Rafal is supporting 450 Ukrainian women and children in Swiatogorsk – the victims of the confict in the Ukraine. This is what Rafal has done in the past half a year.

There is still a lot of enthusiasm and joy in him and in what he is doing. He keeps looking for aid’s best and smartest ways. He keeps learning and testing. The whole week which I have spent at his place, I was leaving him every evening with the nose in the computer creating the presentation about humanitarian aid for Warsaw University students. Or searching for the news about humanitarian aid. To make sure that the projects he is supporting are effective and smart.

Plan Planeta looks very professional from outside. The office is in one room: one wall is full of products – Rafal made the shelves himself from Ikea’s cartons and this is where he keeps all the t-shirts and socks (I could see them all!). You can find binder, scizors and Scotch tape on his desk. And also pieces of paper with the motto “You are awesome – don’t stop!”, which Rafal adds to his clients’ packages. He also proudly presented the stickers he had designed and printed on his own.

Plan Planeta's mission
Plan Planeta’s mission

I kept thinking about those huge hands, huge nose and huge heart. Rafal attracts people and their attention – he has already cummulated quite many of them around, the ones that believed in his idea. Ready to help him.

I am one of the lucky ones around. My favourite products Rafal sells are socks – I can’t stop starring at those colorful patterns. Rafal has presented me spiral socks and socks in bikes as a gift for travel. And a bike t-shirt. But socks are the ones that make me really happy. If you wanna do something good, buy the socks from Rafal: you will be happy (or someone who you will buy them for), he will be happy (and I will be happy as well!) – during this week we’ve spent together, every time when there was a new order, Rafal kept informing me about it, extremely happy and excited. Additionally part of the money will be donated for the project Rafal is currently supporting. It’s quite cool, isn’t it?

Check Plan Planeta out:

Rafal – the founder of Plan Planeta

Home? I forgot to ask him what it means for him. But I will ask, I promise. We are in an almost daily contact right now.

Ps. And Rafal’s mum is collecting bells, from all over the world! Rafal keeps bringing them for her from each of his journeys – he brought her one from the Ukraine recently, from the Ukrainian women he took the socks for.

I stayed with Rafal in Katowice between 5-9 October. The story has been written in Miedzyrzecze on 12 October, published while staying in Vienna on 29 October 2015