“We are desperate to come home” – Guyanese stranded in US

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Bibi Hussain, Yasar Hussain, Lionel Jaikaran, John Ramsingh

[Republished from the Guyana Times]

By Devina Samaroo

Yasar Hussain is a civil engineer attached to a private firm in Guyana and he is at risk of losing his job, having been stranded in Coral Springs, Florida for roughly three months.

Compounding the situation, Hussain’s wife is six months pregnant and he is unable to be with her during this crucial time.

“She is there all alone, she has no one to help her. Every time she needs to go to the clinic or need anything, we have to be dependent or try to be without and make do,” Yasar explained.

Additionally, he is worried about his job.

“I only took two weeks of leave to come here from my job and now I am on the verge of losing that job,” he revealed, noting that he is not earning but still bills to pay, plus now, additional expenses.

“The longer I stay here, it gets worse,” Yasar posited.

Yasar’s sister, Bibi and her husband, Kimmey Buchoon are also experiencing similar struggles.

“We are in a situation here where we are being accommodated at a relative. But at the end of the day, it’s two months plus that we are at relatives and this is not home for us,” Bibi explained.

“You feel like you’re becoming a burden.”

She noted too that “in terms of our finances, that’s a big problem because we came with intentions of returning in two weeks, so now we’re stuck in a foreign land, having to buy food and to survive but we are not getting any source of income here.”

According to her husband, “not because we’re in the States means we’re working and we’re happy. Not everyone here came to work. We just came on a short vacation and now we’re stuck here.”

The Hussain family on March 14 travelled to the Miami to attend a wedding and were slated to return in two weeks.

But on March 17, Guyanese authorities announced that the country’s international airports will be closed effective midnight on the following day, leaving those in the United States with little notice to prepare to return home.

With a 24-hour notice of the intended closure of the airport, the Hussain family tried desperately to get a last-minute flight out of the US, but to no avail.

They have remained there for more than two months, and like many other Guyanese, they are pleading to come home.

For Lionel Jaikaran, former Deputy Mayor and a businessman, it is not easy being away from home.

Jaikaran is stuck in Miami – where there are over 500 deaths due to COVID-19.

Apart from feeling homesick, Jaikaran is concerned about his business venture in Guyana.
“My business in Guyana has been affected tremendously. Since my wife is up here with me, she is not down there to act on my behalf. So, there is a lot of loose ends that I need to tie up, I am dying to get back to Guyana,” he stated.

Additionally, he noted that as a result, his employees are being affected. “I am trying to get money to some of my employees to keep them going.”

The situation is no different for sports journalist, John Ramsingh who is stuck in Boston, Massachusetts.

Having departed Guyana since March 5, 2020 to go to Cape Town, South Africa to perform the role of Media Manager of the Over-50 World Cup Team, Ramsingh has since been caught in the global lockdown brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

With him being stuck in the US, Ramsingh noted that his son – who is preparing for exams – is worried – a situation, Ramsingh lamented that his son has to experience.

No response

A group of Guyanese stranded in the US have since written the National COVID-19 Task Force, urging for them to be granted permission to return home.

The letter dated May 18, stated that the Guyanese are willing to abide by all established protocols to return home, including being tested.

Their appeal comes after the Task Force would have approved the return of several Guyanese students stranded Trinidad and as well as stranded cruise ship workers.
During an interview with this publication on Wednesday, they indicated that no official response has been received in relation to their request.

This publication understands that there are more than 100 Guyanese stranded in New York and over 80 in Florida – all yearning to return home.

The current lockdown measures – inclusive of the closure of the airports – are slated to last until June 3. The Task Force has not yet announced whether it will extend or lift the restrictions.

Even if the authorities decide to extend the lockdown protocols, those stranded are begging to be allowed special authorisation to return home to their loved ones.

“I humbly ask the Task Force to allow us to land in Guyana on our once expense. We are no threat to the Guyanese people. We are just desperate to get home,” Jaikaran expressed.

“We are not asking any favours other than to allow us…we just want to get back home, it is going to be for our sanity and the sanity of those around us. Please allow us to return home,” Ramsingh said.

“We are citizens of Guyana, we belong there…we are here in a foreign land where they have no legal obligation towards us. The mental stress, and depression and anxiety is overwhelming and so we are begging and pleading with those in authority,” Bibi noted.