By Radhica De Silva -June 24, 2020
Pregnant and desperate to go back to her homeland, Sheniequa Lewis is begging National Security Minister Stuart Young to help her.
Lewis, 21, is a national of Antigua and Barbuda who came to Trinidad to pursue a course at the T&T Hospitality and Tourism Institute in September last year. She went back home in December and came back to T&T pregnant with her first child.
Determined to finish her course despite her pregnancy, Lewis said she expected to graduate well before her pregnancy ended in September.
But in March, the course was cancelled because of low student turnout. COVID-19 restrictions kicked in and Lewis said she made preparations to return home.
Her flight was booked for March 30 via Caribbean Airlines, flight number BW0458 but on March 22, the T&T borders were closed.
Holding back tears, Lewis said she remained hopeful that repatriation would come but as her pregnancy advanced she started to lose hope.
Several letters were written to Minister Young and to Everly Paul Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Immigration in Antigua and Barbuda, Lewis but there was no response.
To make matters worse, Lewis’ travel documents expired on June 22.
“I don’t know what else to do. I am appealing to anyone to help me,” she said.
She also said further health complications have added to her misery.
“I suffer from scoliosis (a condition characterized by a sideways curvature of the spine) so it is very painful for me. I get terrible pains to my back, hip and leg. I need to get treatment at home. I usually go to a doctor in Antigua for therapy but here I have no access to therapy,” Lewis cried.
Saying she was thankful to receive monthly checkups at the Debe Health Centre, Lewis said all she wanted was to be back home with her family.
Saying she was terrified that the borders will remain closed and she will be forced to have her baby in T&T, Lewis said she was praying that Minister Young could arrange for her to go back home.
She also said her medical history and records are all in her homeland so she did not want to have the baby in T&T.
Asked whether she has applied for an extension, Lewis said she contacted the Immigration Division and was told by a spokesperson that extension of stays was being granted only to those whose documents had expired before or on April 30. She said she had to wait until her documents were expired before she could apply for an extension.
With regard to an application for exemption, Lewis said the Ministry of National Security indicated in a press statement that only requests made by nationals and permanent residents of T&T were being considered on a case-by-case basis. She said she submitted all her information inclusive of a biodata page of her passport to the Ministry.
She is now hoping that the Ministry could advise her on how to proceed and organize travel arrangements for her to go back home.
Efforts to contact Minister Young for comment proved futile as calls to his cellular phone went unanswered.