For six months now the group has been stranded far throughout an unlimited stretch of ocean on Tahiti in French Polynesia. Kids stay separated from their mother and father, husbands from their wives.
Mihinoa Terakauhau Pont, a 21-year-old mother who’s amongst these stranded, is because of give delivery to her second son any day now, however can’t have her husband by her aspect as a result of he’s again house. Her grief has left her exhausted.
“I can’t cry anymore,” she mentioned. “My coronary heart is chilly.”
Normally thought of a tropical paradise, Tahiti has change into a type of jail to them. Many arrived in March planning to remain for just some weeks — they’d come for work, or a trip, or for medical procedures. However they bought caught when the virus swept throughout the globe and their flights again house have been cancelled.
Every day they’ve been going to the authorities and begging for assist in Spanish, in French, and in English. They’ve thought of chartering a aircraft or making an attempt to hitch a elevate on a army ship to make the journey of some 4,200 kilometres (2,600 miles). However every time their hopes rise a bit, their plans turn into too costly or impractical.
Dwelling to about 8,000 folks, Easter Island is a tiny speck within the huge Pacific Ocean, positioned halfway between Polynesia, within the South Pacific, and South America. Additionally named Rapa Nui, the Chilean territory is famend for its imposing moai — big heads carved from volcanic rock by inhabitants lots of of years in the past. For Easter Islanders, Tahiti has lengthy been a stopping-off level, a connection to the remainder of the world.
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Till the virus struck, LATAM airways ran a daily return route from Santiago, Chile, to Easter Island and on to Tahiti. LATAM mentioned it suspended the route in March due to the virus and doesn’t have a timeline for restarting it. No different airways supply an identical service.
“The resumption of this flight is topic to the event of the pandemic and journey restrictions in place,” the airline mentioned in a press release.
Terakauhau Pont arrived in Tahiti in January to go to her first son, who was staying on a close-by island along with her mother and father. She was attributable to fly house in March. Because the weeks making an attempt to get a flight again slipped into months, she heard from afar that her husband had misplaced his job at a lodge due to the downturn within the tourism business brought on by the virus.
Now, Terakauhau Pont’s mom has began a backyard and her father goes fishing in order that they have sufficient meals to eat every day.
“It’s the one method to survive,” she mentioned.
She has pleaded with the authorities to assist, and has even written to leaders in mainland Chile and on Easter Island, however with none success.
“It’s so a lot grief for all of us,” she mentioned.
She mentioned the one who has finished essentially the most to assist is Kissy Baude, a 40-year-old administrative technician who has lived in Tahiti for years however was attributable to begin a brand new job on her native Easter Island in April.
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Due to her contacts on Tahiti, Baude has change into the unofficial chief of the group — its social employee, psychologist and spokesperson. Baude mentioned the group has survived because of the generosity of Tahitians, who’ve been offering them with meals and lodging lengthy after lots of them ran out of their very own sources.
Baude mentioned that earlier than the virus struck, she was eagerly anticipating returning to Easter Island. She was trying ahead to seeing her mom, who has a room ready and ready. However now, her mom’s husband additionally stays stranded along with her on Tahiti, after travelling there for colon surgical procedure in March.
Baude mentioned one choice they’ve been exploring is to fly a circuitous path to Los Angeles after which to Santiago and hope they get repatriated from there. However even then their return isn’t sure and plenty of within the group can’t afford the expense.
Among the many 16 females and 9 males stranded are seven kids aged between 2 and 14. And the clan is predicted to develop by one on about Oct. 3, the day Terakauhau Pont is because of give delivery to a son that she and her husband plan to call Anuihere.
Some within the group have struggled to seek out sufficient cash merely to eat, whereas others have discovered it powerful going emotionally. These days, they’ve been capable of acquire some cash on-line after organising two donation pages.
Baude will get emotional when speaking about their state of affairs. She mentioned a few of them worry talking up in case they face repercussions again on Easter Island, however she isn’t afraid.
“We simply wish to return to our homeland,” she mentioned.
Vergara reported from Santiago, Chile.
© 2020 The Canadian Press