Mon | Jul 6, 2020

T&T COVID-19 ban splits ship worker wife, husband

Published:Tuesday | June 2, 2020 | 12:25 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor
Dujan Thomas and his daughter Durina.
Dujan Thomas and his daughter Durina.


Had it not been for COVID-19, Jamaica-born cruise ship worker Dujan Thomas would have disembarked the Disney Fantasy with his Trinidadian wife, Sabrina, when the vessel docked in the twin-island state recently.

However, with the T&T government adamant that only its nationals would be allowed entry because of the COVID-19 restrictions, Thomas, who had made Trinidad his home when he was off the vessel, was forced to not only leave his wife of eight years behind, but was robbed of the opportunity to see his two children.

“I was really disappointed that they did not allow me entry because I am on the verge of getting my residency papers … . That is where I live, with my wife and my children,” Thomas told The Gleaner from his quarantine location in St Ann yesterday.

“I am married to a Trinidadian, and I am also a CARICOM national, so I believe they should have handled my situation differently.”

Thomas said that he would be as much at home in Jamaica as he would have been in Trinidad, albeit without his wife, children, and in-laws, with whom he has a fantastic relationship.

“Once I am out of the quarantine centre, I will be going off and spend some time with my grandmother, who lives here in St Ann,” said Thomas, who is a chef.

In an interview with the Trinidad Express, Mrs Thomas, who is a telephone operator on the ship, said that when the vessel docked in Trinidad and she realised that her husband would not be allowed entry, she cried because she knew that their three-year-old and seven-year-old children were eager to see him.

“Today, I came off the Disney Fantasy, but my husband couldn’t. He is not a national, but we have pending permanent residency,” she told the Express, adding that they were readying to complete the paperwork.

The unhappy husband and father told The Gleaner that being away from his family has been a traumatic experience.

“My in-law told me that when my youngest asked her why daddy has not come home, she told her that daddy could not come because he did not have any papers,” Mr Thomas said.

“She said the child went away and return with a piece of paper and said, ‘Give this to Daddy so that he can come home.’”

In her interview with the Express, Mrs Thomas spoke of the strong bond her husband has with their children.

“My kids were expecting to see Mummy and Daddy waving when we arrived home, but it was only Mummy. ... I don’t know when we will be able to see him again ... .

“Our little baby’s birthday will be in August, and we wanted to come home, make sure we get enough time to quarantine and be ready to celebrate as a family together,” the wife said.

However, with no choice but to wait until Trinidad opens its borders to non-nationals, Mr Thomas is confident that he will test negative for the coronavirus.

“I just want to see my children so that I can hug them and tell them that all is well,” said Mr Thomas.