Rajkumari Seeratan

Desperate to return home: Seventy-year-old Rajkumari Seeratan, who is currently stranded in Toronto, Canada.

The daughters of 70-year-old Raj­kumari Seeratan are pleading for her to once again see the sunshine in Trinidad and Tobago after more than a year in Toronto, Canada.

Speaking to the Express in a telephone interview yesterday, daughter Sav Gillick explained that her elderly mother, prompted by the sudden illness of her grandchild in Toronto, left Trinidad in August 2019.

Seventeen months later, she said her mother has grown desperate to return to her home.

However, despite multiple attempts to get a response from the Ministry of National Security, Seeratan remains at the home of her daughter in Stouffville without an exemption.

“My mom came to Toronto on August 17, 2019 because my nephew was critically ill, in hospital intubated and ventilated, fighting for his life. We all flew to Toronto because he was unwell.

“My mom flew from Trinidad to Toronto because my sister has another son who is another minor and so she went to give support and to be the guardian of the other son while my sister was in hospital with her other son, while my sister was in the hospital for more than one year,” said Gillick.

Seeratan, who was scheduled to return to Trinidad in April 2020, was inevitably trapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the announcement of Trinidad and Tobago’s border closure, Gillick said at least seven attempts have been made to apply for an exemption on behalf of her mother.

However, each request was met with an automated response from the ministry, noting that the application would be considered. The last of these, she said, came on ­November 22.

“My mom wanted to return and her flight was booked for April 13, then Covid-19 happened and the world changed.

“We applied for an exemption and we made seven e-mail contacts and got two responses with the ­automated script.

“The fact that this is a human rights issue and there was an issue with quarantine as well and there was no response to that. I sent an e-mail on the 22nd of November. We have collectively attempted to contact the ministry but no ­response,” she said.

Dwindling health

Suffering with multiple co-morbidities, Seeratan’s daughters are concerned about her deteriorating mental health.

Being stranded and facing the reality of a global pandemic, Gillick said her mother spends each day overwhelmed by anxiety and desperate for the chance to reunite with her family and dogs at home.

“My mom has a few co-morbidities, diabetic and thyroid problems and high blood pressure.

“She is now dependent on Canadian healthcare to supply and look after her health needs.

“Fortunately, we can supply the pharmaceuticals, we wouldn’t allow our mom to go unwell, but her mental health is dwindling.

“She has three dogs who she cares for and they are left unattended. Her home is left unattended and she has family back in Trinidad that she hasn’t seen in a long time and she is missing her life, her independence, her country of birth.

“Everything you think a pensioner is deserving, she is missing when she is far away from home. She is very down.”

Worry and anxiety

Gillick added: “She is in a situation where she is looking after my sister’s son and going to my other sister’s home for respite because when you are looking after someone who is unwell, it is not a situation anyone wants to be in.

“Also, she is limited in leaving the house because she is afraid she will contract something and take it back to my ill nephew. She has dodgy knees; if she sustains a fall, she would be very susceptible to a broken hip or femur while walking around in the snow.”

Gillick, who spoke on behalf of Seeratan’s four daughters, asked the Government to consider the health of their mother as a contributing member of society. “I’d like the Government to think about the fact that she is 70 years old and earned the right to be in her home country, her country of birth.

“We have made several attempts to return her [to] her environment and safe place and gotten no response. It is inciting worry and anxiety. My dad who is deceased was a maxi and taxi driver for all his life. Both my parents are contributors to the ­economy.

“I would like them to consider a citizen who has raised four children, contributed to society, to be able to live in her own home in her autumn years,” said Gillick.