50 Guyanese returned home Sunday from Antigua and Tortola

(Guyana Chronicle) “It feels good to be home. There really is no place like home,” were the words of Vaughn Trapp, a father of one who was among the 50 Guyanese who returned on Sunday from Antigua.

The group of 50 arrived on a flight originating in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which brought 35 Guyanese from Tortola, and another 15 from Antigua, many of them having been trapped on the islands for some time now due to airport closures. The fight also facilitated the return of 11 persons who were stuck here in Guyana but reside in Antigua and Sint Maarten. Vaughn had been stuck on the island nation of Antigua for the past five months after his planned two-week vacation was drawn-out due to airport closures in Guyana, which took effect on March 18, as part of measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus here.

Several nations across the Caribbean effected similar closures when cases of the virus turned up in their country. Currently, many of the airport closures are still in effect, as is the case in Guyana, leaving chartered repatriation flights as the only means for Guyanese stuck overseas to get home. Now that he has finally landed back home, Vaughn said he can’t wait to get back to work and see his 11-year-old daughter, who not only celebrated a birthday but also wrote her National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) during his absence. Vaughn had been scheduled to return since March 30 to his job at the Supreme Court Sub-Registry in Berbice, but was unable to, due to his situation.

Arriving passengers at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport being processed (DPI photo)

Vaughn said though the passengers were given no instructions on quarantining, given Guyana’s current rising cases of the virus, he plans to do some self-quarantining until his workplace requires that he turn back out to work. Thirty-two-year-old Lona Bowen did not tell her two young sons that she was scheduled to fly in on Sunday, as she was looking forward to surprising them, given the emotional anguish they had faced with her being stuck in Antigua for the past five months.

SHOCK OF THEIR LIVES

“They didn’t even recognise it was me, because I had on the mask, and they were just shocked. I wanted it to be a surprise,” Bowen conveyed, shortly after arriving home. Her sons are 10 and 11 years old. Bowen had feared that the flight might not have materialised, after it had originally been scheduled to fly on Saturday, but had to be postponed, due to Tropical Storm Laura, which had affected the Leeward Islands and the British Virgin Islands (BVI). “I am just so happy to finally see my children,” Bowen said, adding: “My sole concern was just to get home to get my children.” Bowen had left her two younger sons behind when she left Guyana in March to visit her new baby grand-daughter in Antigua, because it was supposed to be just a one-week vacation. However, due to the airport closure, it stretched out to five months.

Lona Bowen was reunited with her two sons on Sunday after being stuck in Antigua for the past five months (DPI photo)

Though there are currently regular ongoing repatriation flights to bring home Guyanese from the United States of America, Guyanese in other countries, particularly in Caribbean nations, have been waiting for some time now to source flights, due to the low numbers that results in higher prices per passenger to cover the cost of the chartered plane. Though there have been previous flights to repatriate Guyanese from Barbados and Trinidad, this will be the first flight from Antigua.

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