TWO MOTHERS who are currently in quarantine have said, putting politics aside, Minister of National Security Stuart Young has worked tirelessly and thanklessly to get stranded nationals home.
Claire Spencer returned home on Saturday with her 16-year-old son after what she described as seven harrowing months abroad. She said she would be happy to share her story publicly if it helps other people in the position she was in.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Spencer opted not to recount her experience "(since) there are still so many stranded nationals stuck in every corner of this ailing planet." But she said Young's efforts have often been unappreciated.
"Stuart Young has to be more than a politician and MP right now. He has to make hard and swift decisions as many lives locally and abroad have been ripped apart by deaths and spread of covid19. He’s doing it alone, meaning all who on every social media, blasting the man, what have you contributed to the stranded abroad? He has the biggest task of trying to bring them home."
She continued, conversely, "But did you send groceries, money, anything to them in the interim?"
His ministry, she said, was "currently tasked with managing a foreign affairs nightmare, sorting through thousands of applications from TT nationals outside the borders, in the middle of an unpredictable pandemic, while at the same time managing law and order locally."
She said complaints at home about people having to wear masks in their cars, for instance, now seem particularly ridiculous.
"I’ve not seen one group organised to do anything but complain while people losing their minds and sanity out there. They’re separated from their kids, jobs and responsibilities as if a category five hurricane had hit somewhere and we got cut off. But no.
"This is so much worse. Because it’s invisible. Because it depends on you, who’s never met me, to wear your mask every single chance we might interact. It depends on you focusing on building up our leaders’ efforts rather than criticizing constantly."
She said, in addition to the ministry's concern about citizens' welfare, she has been in contact with Caribbean Airlines (CAL) every week since June.
"Nobody buff me. nobody told me the obvious, ‘Lady, the borders closed.’ And most importantly on the day of the flight home, they were tireless in ensuring everyone was prepped and as comfortable as could be expected."
On arriving in Piarco, she said there was a group of soldiers, which was nerve-racking and intimidating at first.
"...Only to realise they were there for us – to ensure we were safely and swiftly put into quarantine."
As for her son, who will sit his CSEC exams next year, she added that he is well equipped for the current term.
"He has his books courtesy Mohammed's Bookstore Associates Ltd as their curbside service worked excellently.
"He’s enrolled at one of the best private schools offering him dedicated and supportive online teaching, even while we were abroad since July."
Newsday spoke with another mother, who recently returned to TT and is in quarantine, after months being stuck in the UK, before flying to Barbados and eventually to Piarco.
She was reluctant to share her experience for fear that her comments will be misconstrued, resulting in a backlash against her, so she requested to remain unnamed.
Her experience with Young, she said, was "very professional, to the point," and she got home. She insists that she is not politically aligned and has never met the minister before.
"I'm having a very good experience (in quarantine). After all the negative things that's on social media about coming home, my experience is very different and a good one. I have not been treated like I have a killer disease. I'm at a nice hotel with my son."
She says the service has been excellent and the food good. Her seven-year-old son is with her and in good spirits.
"My only negative thing about my experience is that it was a bit disorganised as to where we were supposed to be quarantined. Plus, the bus shut down late at night. But apart from that I can only speak on my own experience and it's a good one so far.
"Anything I ask for, they provide. I was never made to feel any less of a human since my arrival."