A TRINI chef stuck in Spain for several weeks has expressed outrage at the silent treatment meted out to her by government, which has studiously ignored her several applications for an exemption of the covid19 restrictions on air travel so she can return home.
Chef Natasha De Bourg told Newsday she is at her wits' end and is begging government to grant her the exemption so she can be reunited. Confirming that at least four separate applications to the National Security Minister, since September, have all been met with stony silence, De Bourg says she longs to sleep in her bed, in her home, in her country once again.
“Where my home is, where my heart is. I miss my country,” she cried. “I am...a native Trinidadian, stuck in a pandemic away from home, inhibited from returning to my country because the Government will not deem me worthy of processing an exemption,” she wrote in a message to Newsday.
De Bourg said she first applied for an exemption on September 15 and about four times after that, but is yet to receive a response.
“It’s a broken system as not a single response is given in the hope of getting me home in some given time. I am urging the Government to bring me home. I want to sleep in my bed again and be in a place I know.”
She said over the past month, her company has been seeking an exemption on her behalf.
“Any time there was a glimmer of hope, we were instantly shut down. I have been booking, cancelling and rebooking flights in the slightest chance an exemption will come through, and I will finally be able to return home.
“There has been no word from the leaders of my country to help me. There has been no empathy for a local woman stranded on the other side of the world.”
She described Government’s lack of communication and professionalism as “quite shocking.”
“While there may appear to be a system at first, it has been revealed (that) this is smoke and mirrors, with the officials only responding when they deem fit for helping themselves,” she claimed.
De Bourg stressed her company is willing to cover the cost of all flights, quarantine and covid tests before and after her travel. She recalled while on her job in Europe she was in a covid-free “bubble” for eight weeks, only allowed to see other colleagues who were also in this bubble, being tested for covid19 twice a week.
“We are living in a world where the current situation surrounds us and our borders, and it is affecting all of us differently. The world is in pain, we are hurting, we are frustrated, and we are abandoned. I can understand first-hand the frustration of many who have been stuck outside the country. With no place to call home.
“I have no place to call my own right now, stuck away from my country, my family, and my friends.”
Last month National Security Minister Stuart Young said Government has been granting more exemptions and working towards increasing the numbers, in accordance with the new liberalised exemption policy.
In July, the Prime Minister said about 10,000 people have applied for exemptions to leave or enter the country since the borders were closed in March as part of covid19 preventative measures. In July he reported 2,250 people had been granted exemptions to enter the country out of 5,539 applications. He stressed that preference would be given to nationals who normally live in the country.