Dubai: A Dubai couple who left their two-year-old baby with the nanny and housemaid to go on a vacation to Cape Town is now separated from their child due to all borders being shut because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to Gulf News, Chiara Maioni hopes authorities will hear their story and speed up a possible reunion with the baby.
On March 12, Dubai resident, Chiara Maioni (Italian) and her husband Mark Hill (British) had decided to take a holiday to Cape Town. They left their 2-year-old baby, Skye Mia Maioni Hill in the care of their trusted nanny and housemaid.
It was supposed to be a quick trip, and the couple who are long-time residents in the UAE, have trusted friends here in Dubai who promised to look over the child. They were expected to be back on March 21.
“This is the first time we have left her home without Skye and I feel terribly guilty about this. She was born at seven months, premature, and we deserved a break and now this has happened,” says Chiara, a freelance television commercial producer.
While in Cape Town, the situation over the Coronavirus pandemic started getting serious globally and the couple immediately decided that the right thing to do was to move their flight to an earlier return date.
Flights fully booked
It was March 15, and we were “only 3 days into being here. All Emirates flights at this point were fully booked in all classes (first, business or economy) for March 16, 17 and 18,” writes Chiara in an email to Gulf news.
The couple got their first availability on March 19, and they immediately changed the booking to that day. But as things progressed, “On the 19th morning we woke up to the news that all incoming flights had been blocked for tourists or residents alike,” says Chiara.
The UAE had suspended the entry for all residents overseas as part of measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus, from Midday March 19.
“We tried to book ourselves on another Emirates flight that was scheduled to operate as a special flight on March 23, but that got cancelled as well,” she says.
“Since then we have been calling non-stop all helpline numbers that have been posted in the media,” says Chiara.
The couple has also contacted embassies (both the UK and Italian embassies and the UAE embassy) in Cape Town and the UAE, and submitted their documents. “They keep telling us we will be hearing back in 48 hrs, but nothing so far. It has been more than 14 days since we first submitted our documents. We have called and resubmitted our papers online on the Tawajudi service for residents stranded abroad, but we are yet to hear anything.”
I am sure a lot of people are facing similar circumstances, says Chiara, “but we are not sure that many have a 2.2-year old alone in the UAE under supervision of nanny and maid only.”
Help from Friends
The couple’s friends are helping as much as they can but “with the stay home rule every evening, my child is really alone with the nanny and the housemaid.”
“Thank God we have friends who are trying to help the best they can, including, my husband’s ex-wife and his two daughters who go over and spend some time with my baby,” says Chiara.
She admits that, “I couldn’t bring myself to video call my daughter till quite a few days after… I was bursting down in tears. How do you explain to a 2-year old that mom and daddy have not left her, and we just can’t go back yet?”
“The other day my baby told me, 'mamma come home' and it breaks my heart to hear that.”
The couple feels that at least one of them should be able to go back, and even if it means a quarantine for them, that’s fine. “Anything, but just to be with our daughter.”
“I cannot thank my nanny and my housemaid for being such wonderful people and stepping up their efforts to keep my child well.”
Trying to test for Covid-19
“We have also thought about going testing here in Cape Town for COVID-19, to help our case in showing that we are not sick, but now the whole country is in quarantine from March 26 till April 16… and only people with symptoms will be tested and we don’t come under that bracket.”
The couple just have one message: “Please help us be united with our child. We know she is very safe in the UAE, but we need to be with her as soon as possible.”