Monday, July 27, 2020

South African national Bianca Doufene and her family in Ballyhaunis. The worsening pandemic situation in her some country is a cause for concern.

Covid-19 has meant the distance from home for people from other nations living in Mayo has never felt further.
The county is home to people from all over the globe and three women from Venezuela, South Africa, and Latvia, have shared their experiences of the pandemic here and the anxiety felt for loved ones back in their native lands.
South African woman Bianca Doufene lives in Ballyhaunis with her husband Ali and their two children.
Bianca, who is from outside Johannesburg, has been looking on with concern as the Covid-19 crisis grips her homeland.
“My family is stuck in South Africa and God forbid should anything happen we cannot go to them. It’s impossible to make any plans to visit because of everything that is going on and nobody knows when travel will open again,” said Bianca.
Like many African countries, South Africa has been experiencing a surge in cases and has recently reinstated lockdown measures.
“It seems to be peaking there at the moment with over 300,000 cases and people are suffering a lot because there are no social welfare measures like here. People are not working, people are not eating, crime is increasing. It’s really hard on people,” said Bianca.
“My mum is staying with a friend of ours who is looking after her so thank God she is OK,” she added.
Dimarlys Calvo, from Venezuela, lives in Castlebar with her three children.
“In Venezuela, it is just getting worse and worse,” said Dimarlys.
South American countries have been hit hard by the crisis.
Venezuela is reporting just over 10,000 cases but the case count in the country is rising by more than 30% every week.
“It is hard being so far away from your people and your family. I have no way of going there and I am afraid of going there,” said Dimarlys.
She said stocks in shops in Venezuala have dwindled, petrol is scarce, and some people have had to resort to bartering food items.

Latvian woman Zane Kazotniece has been keeping regular contact with family at home throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

Zane Kazotniece, originally from Latvia, lives in Turlough with her husband Bernard and their three children. The number of cases in the Baltic country is low (just over 1,100) but has climbed in recent weeks.
“The situation was a lot better than it was here in Ireland but they are starting to fear the second wave like everywhere else,” said Zane. “I was quite concerned about my Dad because he is 87.
“I can’t do anything from here apart from just ringing and staying in touch as often as I can.”
Before Covid-19, Zane’s family would usually have visited Mayo at Easter and she would have made her annual summer trip to Latvia.
As part of staying connected, one of Zane’s daughters interviewed her grandfather as part of the Western People’s ‘Through the Ages’ project where children collected their grandparents’ stories.
“She was able to write it all down in Latvian and then translate it and send it in which was a lovely thing,” said Zane.
She said she knows of a number of people from the tight-knit Latvian community in Mayo who returned home some time ago and found themselves unable to come back to Ireland.

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