The strict border closure measures by the New Zealand government has separated many Indian families. With uncertainty looming over when the border restrictions will ease, these families are feeling helpless and requesting the government to have some mercy on them.
Here are the stories of two NZ based Indian mothers who are being separated from their daughters due to NZ’s strict border control measures.
“Being a mother herself, can Jacinda Ardern live without her daughter?”
Sandeep Kaur, like most of the migrants, came to New Zealand a few years ago from Punjab, India with dreams of better life and career along with her husband Gagandeep. Sandeep was on cloud nine when she gave birth to their daughter Gursimran at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital on 01/06/2018.
It was in October 2018 that Sandeep’s in-laws, who had come for her delivery had to go back to India, it was then decided that Gursimran would stay in India for few months with her grandparents. “Our intention was just to leave our daughter with her grandparents for few months. My parents were supposed to travel to New Zealand in few months so we decided that they would get Gursimran with them. Our plan to leave our daughter was only for few months,” says Sandeep
However, it is a decision that Sandeep, who is a work visa holder, and her husband regret to date.
When Sandeep applied for Gursimran’s visa in 2019, INZ delayed it for months. Finally, it was on 06 January 2020 that Gursimran was granted a visa in line with her parents’ visa, which is valid till 23/08/2022.
Sandeep had all the plans to travel to India to get her daughter but the Covid 19 pandemic stuck globally resulting in lockdown in 2020 and border closure since then.
“I feel so helpless that I can’t be with my daughter. I do cry a lot as I want to be with my child. I do want to go to India to get Gursimran but since I am a work visa holder, I don’t know whether I will be able to come back to New Zealand. Since Gursimran can’t travel alone and visitor visa from offshore are closed, no one can get Gursimran here. The uncertainty of when the border will open is killing me. I miss my child so much. Even my child is suffering heath wise, she is not eating properly and is missing us a lot. It is almost three years that I haven’t seen her. ” Says Sandeep. She adds, “Even the doctors have told us that for her best interest, she should be staying with her parents. I humbly request Jacinda to think about families that are separated. Please unite families.”
Sandeep adds, “When we do video call with Gursimran, she always says, “Mumma pass jaana (I want to go to my mother). You can’t imagine the helplessness that I feel as a mother at that time. It is just so hard to explain the situation to Gursimran about why I can’t come to India or she can’t come to New Zealand.”
“Being a mother herself, can Jacinda Ardern live without her daughter? I challenge her to be able to stay without her daughter even for few days,” asks Sandeep.
“I understand that restrictions and border security are important to keep New Zealand safe, but it should not be at the cost of hundreds of families being separated. The government should think about exceptions especially for families like us that are separated from their children,” requests Sandeep.
“Jacinda, please don’t separate families…Have some mercy.”
Hargurinder Kaur, who hails from Punjab, came to New Zealand on a student visa a few years ago along with her husband Simranjeet Singh. The couple who got married in India in 2014 became proud parents to their daughter Parteet Kaur on 07/02/2018.
However, in January 2019, when Parteet was around 11 months old, the family decided that Prateet would stay in India for just a few months with her grandparents and then the family would get her back.
“It was just that both I and my husband were busy with our jobs and we had no family in New Zealand, so our families suggested we leave Parteet in India for few months. It is quite common in Indian culture and hence we thought it is only a matter of few months and then we will get Parteet to New Zealand,” explains Hargurinder.
But since then, the Covid 19 pandemic has changed the way we live and travel globally.
Being a mother, I feel so sad that I am missing watching my daughter grow. I have missed all her birthdays. I want to hug her, kiss her but I just can’t. There is not even a single day that I and my husband don’t cry thinking of Parteet,” says an emotional Hargurinder.
Talking about how Parteet, who stays in Punjab with her grandparents, misses her parents, Hargurinder says, “Every day she prays, “Waheguruji main mumma papa ke pass chali jaoon.” (God, please take me to my parents. Agar koi plane dekhti hai udte huye, toh poochti hai apni daadi se ki kya ismain mumma aayi hai mujhe lene? (If she see any plane flying, she ask her grandmother if mumma is in it to take me. Imagine what I go through when she asks me mummy aab kab aa rahe ho (Mom, when are you coming to take me.?”
Since Hargurinder works in the healthcare sector, she understands that the importance to keep our border safe. “There is no doubt that we all need to be safe from Covid 19 but the government should think about hundreds of families who are forced to stay separated. The uncertainty of when I will meet my child is taking a toll on my mental health. It gets so difficult to concentrate on work as well. I keep reading the news and listening to the press conferences by ministers in a hope that the situation would change so that I could find a way to get my daughter. My request to Jacinda Ardern is ‘Please don’t separate families.”
“I have one question to the NZ government, god forbid if this pandemic stays for the next few years then will I not be able to see my daughter till then. Please have some mercy on mothers like me who are dying to meet their children on the other side of the border,” pleads Hargurinder.