Our continuous struggle here in the United Kingdom can be equated to pleading for freedom to return home before one of us die. We are once more pleading and begging for your assistance in granting us an exemption and giving us a date to return to our homeland and country, T&T.
It has been over 100 days we are locked out of our very own country with no valid reason.
We are citizens of T&T just like you and we should be treated fairly, equally and as human beings not as slaves. The Covid-19 curve has flattened and it’s time for us to return to our country now as we kindly ask, Minister, that you stop playing politics with us and allow us to return home.
Your generic monotonous and repetitious response to everyone who applies for exemption is that: “The borders of T&T are currently closed to both nationals and non-nationals and to continue to shelter in place.”
This statement, however, is impractical and magniloquent as it alludes to some degree of rhetoric fallacy to persons in need of assistance facing a medical crisis that is considered “life or death.”
Many of our citizens are now without funds for it’s a real challenge with the high currency exchange rate, no accommodation, food and other supplies, the mental stress of being stranded is by itself unimaginable to any person. Some of us are now facing both homelessness and starvation in the coming days with no help from our government.
The T&T governmemt has brought hardship and turmoil to its stranded nationals by totally ignoring them, allowing crying in mental anguish and suffering, without daily meals, medical supplies, medical treatment, accommodation, financial aid, lack of care packages, poor consideration and treatment and lack of communication from the Minister of National Security who seems to be thriving on separating rather than uniting families.
Our plea is a sad but true story that not only touches the heart but sensitises and exposes, the safe and sheltered like yourself, to see and understand the utter hell one must endure while being stranded. The real scuffle and desolation of a stranded Trini in the UK that I do not wish, not even for my worst enemy, to experience.
Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Freedom is the breath of life.”
But being stranded and locked out of your OWN country by an uncaring government due to a pandemic, defies this powerful statement. Freedom? What freedom? Right now we do not know what it is to be free.
In fact, we feel like caged, helpless birds. Every day we struggle just to remain calm. Every day we feel pain in every part of our anatomy. It hurt us deeply and we cry uncontrollably. We can’t even pray fervently without shedding tears of lost hope. By now (after 100 days), we feel as if we are ready to have a psych evaluation because nothing feels normal anymore.
Being alienated from your own country and government we voted for to serve us, and our loved ones drives anyone insane. But Minister Young, you may not know this, because you are happy and comfortable in your home surrounded by your family. This suffocation we feel is detrimental to our mental health.
The Prime Minister and government of T&T closed their borders and locked out many of its nationals on March 22 in a most vile and deliberate method with very short notice for nationals to try to have their return tickets revalidated.
Hundreds of our citizens including students are stranded with very little hope and faith that good sense will prevail and that the Government would manage a co-ordinated repatriation system in a humane and just manner. In fact, what is happening now seems that the government is operating on ad hocism and their judgement is bordering on impartiality and discrimination.
I ask that the Prime Minister and his Government think about the struggle and mental anguish of the loss of one family member by death or critical illness. How does one begin to deal with this tragedy?
Some do not know where their next meal is coming from, elderly citizens are sick and in pain and needs to replenish their medical supplies, some have absolutely no money, no accommodation, no basic house hold necessities, no medical supplies while mental distress is mounting.
But, most importantly, daily survival without family support is what is killing us the most.
Other prime ministers and Caricom governments are all rendering consideration and assistance to all their stranded nationals with exemptions and repatriation flights by allowing their nationals to return to their country and be reunited with their loved ones. Why can’t T&T do the same?
While we would like for our government to be seen as the flagstaff government that led the rest of the world, not only their valiant and resounding success in having flattened the curve, but which also reached out to their stranded nationals who are in dire need of help and rendered assistance when it was needed and brought home their nationals which they fail to do so.
We also take this opportunity to ask the Prime Minister, are you not the PM and government for all of its citizens, for every creed and race? Why are you treating our loyal elderly, sick, taxpayers, business owners, students, citizens of this country in such an inhumane and arrogant manner?
The government and health experts are perpetuating terror, suffering, humiliation and embarrassment to our decent stranded citizens who are struggling just to return home. There seems to be lack of structure and coordination in this management repatriation effort.
Let me vocalise the point that a stranded national is a bonafide citizen with a T&T passport and a return ticket.
Why it is that our tax paying citizens must now mercilessly have to go to the media to beg and cry for help, before the goodly minister of national security responds to their plea and grant them approval for re-entry exemption? This shouldn’t be!
There should have been instant response and communication to stranded citizens with projections of an expected date of return.
Science, data and rate of infection are important factors to consider but with mandatory quarantine, our step down facilities can be utilised fully to accommodate the nationals.
I ask the million dollar question: “What is the government really scared of?”
Are they afraid we find out how they are mismanaging and misappropriating state budgets or are they scared we really realise they cannot manage a pandemic under any circumstances? Or is it election time again… and who lives— good for them, and who dies—poor thing? I’m not sure, I’m just asking on behalf of the hundreds of stranded nationals.
We take this opportunity to call upon you Mr Prime Minister, and your protégé, Minister of National Security and the Government to cease the playing of games with citizens’ lives.
For a government that does not care about its stranded citizens has allowed us to lose all faith and confidence in the leadership of our country.
It’s time to bring back our citizens home and to demonstrate some love, compassion and humanity to our stranded nationals who are struggling outside of our borders. Cruise ship workers are equally important to anyone. Cancer patients are critical and must be given first preference, but where is the schedule for return? Where is the roadmap that allows hope to the rest of citizens? Asking stranded nationals to continue to “shelter in place” is not a mantra nor motto.
The richest resource of any country is its citizenry. Please stop the playing of games with the lives of our nationals. They are human beings too.
I take this opportunity to call upon our President of Trinidad & Tobago, CARICOM Chairman and all NGO’s, religious leaders, government and Opposition MPs, humanitarian bodies, and attorneys to please listen to our cries and plight. Please highlight the dirge we have to endure. Someone with an iota of influence and persuasion should be able to hear this cry.
The T&T government has brought a lot of its stranded citizens to cry blood in their tears. The struggle and the cry of the stranded citizens is real. As we conclude, we refer us back to what Ghandi said; reminding us about my lost freedom and lasts breaths of life.
I ask of you to let this sink in (even if you have to read it twice)—“Someone asked me, if I were stranded on a deserted island what book would I bring…?
I answered, How to Build a Boat.” —Steven Wright
Stranded Citizens of Trinidad & Tobago in the United Kingdom.