Manazir Islam wrote to Parent24 to explain that while the Rainbow Nation is facing a number of challenges from all corners due to the effects of the nearly six-month-lockdown, binational couples around the world have now been separated from one another for many months, due to lockdown measures and travel bans.
He brought our attention to an online campaign called 'Love is not Tourism', which is calling for governments to make it easy for stranded couples to travel and reunite with their loved ones. Islam, speaking on behalf of #LoveIsNotTourism SA Team, explained that the group is hoping that the SA government can restart international tourism under Level 1 soon.
He says their attempts to contact government officials at Home Affairs and elsewhere haven't resulted in any satisfying outcome.
We published his open letter to the president, and after reading the heartfelt call, many Parent24 readers wrote in to share their stories of heartbreak caused by the travel ban.
Read the open letter here: 'Love knows no borders': Foreigners plead for lift on SA's travel ban in open letter to the president
See our reader's stories below.
'We were so excited to start our new chapter'
My story began last year April 2019. I met my girlfriend online. She is from the Philippines. Long story short, I decided to visit her in the Philippines last year.
After that visit, we knew we were made for each other (never felt this before). We started planning our life together and getting married and having children. We saved up for plane tickets and everything. We arranged a visa (3 months) for her.
The problem is that visas are for specific dates. It just so happened that it was between April and June. This was in February. We were so excited to start our new chapter. Now we have no idea when we will be together.
She's stuck in the Philippines with no work as she resigned because she was coming here. The lockdown has taken everything from us. We can't get any info with regards to reissued visas. It's literally been a year since I've last been with her and it's truly draining.
I will do anything to have her fly here to be with me again.
'I have missed so much not being able to travel home'
I support the movement 100%. I'm a South African working in the UK as a key worker in the care sector. I last saw my family 8 March this year.
I have missed so much not being able to travel home, my daughter's 18th, my son's 16th. I would love nothing more than to be able to see them again this year.
'We are desperate'
My husband died 31 March and my son who is an academic in England has not been able to come home with his family to be with myself and my daughter. We are desperate to have closure and scatter the ashes.
'The relationship is taking strain'
My flight was cancelled by lockdown 3 days before I was to fly out. My fiance and I have been chatting twice a day on WhatsApp but the relationship is taking strain as the lockdown has gone on far too long.
'There should be special provisions made'
My 2-year-old son and I have not seen my partner for 6 months. We’d usually see each other once a month. It’s become terribly hard to explain to my child that 'the aeroplanes are broken” when we constantly see planes fly over our home.
There should be special provisions made for these kinds of circumstances. The risk has been reduced and people have learnt to make the 5 Golden rules part of their lives now.
'I flew over in December... that was the last time I saw my wife'
In 2017 I married an amazing, beautiful, sweet, kind, lady from Belarus. I am a South African citizen. How did this happen?
After a painful divorce from my first wife, I decided to look for love on the internet and this lady took an interest in me.
The fact that I had two special needs kids, didn't even bother her.
We chatted online for 6 months, I flew over on month seven, spent a wonderful time with her, proposed to her and after two weeks, she accepted, even after I disclosed my prostate cancer.
I invited her to come to SA and we got married in July 2017.
Sadly, her son developed cancer and I brought him to South Africa for treatment. Unfortunately, it was not successful and my beautiful, perfect wife had to leave South Africa last year in October to assist with his treatment in Belarus.
I flew over in December to spend time with them and that was the last time I saw my wife.
She is now stuck in a country in the middle of a revolution, Covid and South African home affairs is preventing us from being a family.
The worst part is that my two amazing boys, the eldest having autism, the youngest having dyslexia, both adored her, and she gave them unconditional love.
Outraged and disappointed, Kyle
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