‘You feel like a criminal even going to get food’
With borrowed money and a borrowed phone, Reg Wynne is trying to get home from Vietnam.
“The situation is getting more dire and it feels like the noose continues to get tighter and tighter with no end in sight,” he told Stuff.
Four months ago, the Kiwi, who worked teaching English, lost his job when schools closed. Since then, he had been relying on money sent from his dad in Hamilton, who was also struggling, and a phone borrowed from a friend to book a spot in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).
Wynne is among the thousands of expatriates desperately trying to get back to New Zealand during the Covid-19 pandemic and, like many, has found the MIQ booking system made it near impossible. He has been trying to get home for over a year.
Life in Ho Chi Minh City, where he has lived for the past nine years, had taken a dramatic downward spiral with the latest Covid-19 lockdown, he said. Wynne described the city’s appearance as a “war zone”.
“It looks like a war zone [with] empty streets, red tape everywhere, army and police trucks and checkpoints in abundance.”
While he was safe, Wynne said the environment was rapidly changing into what felt like an army state.
“You feel like a criminal even going to get food. I walk everywhere, and there is a sense of continual lifeless suffocation and economic despair.”
Wynne had not been home for over three years and was planning to move back to live with his 82-year-old dad in Hamilton. He did not fit the criteria for an emergency MIQ allocation but if he was still stuck when his visa expired this coming February, he would look to apply.
“The door appears closed everywhere you look. [I have] feelings of isolation, helplessness and [being] trapped.
“There is no way I can afford to continue like this.”
Like many, he thought the MIQ system needed a complete overhaul, especially since stories of “complete incompetence” had been shared for the past year and no major changes had been enacted.
He thought human rights were being abused by the poor system.
Wynne hoped lending his voice to the chorus of New Zealanders stuck abroad, unable to get home, would help shift the dial.
“The NZ Government continues to show its soft underbelly and they don’t care. They still get paid each month.
“They also need to be held accountable, which … involves trying as best they can to keep an eye on their citizens who require assistance in a very complicated and rapidly changing landscape.”
Covid-19 infections in Vietnam are still growing. According to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), 9334 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours. Since the pandemic began, there have been more than 224,000 infections and 3757 deaths reported.
By Brittney Deguara – Stuff.co.nz – August 12, 2021