Opinion

Filling form now makes my return more likely

Filling form now makes my return more likely
  • After informing my friends and family of the new developments and sharing in the joy with them, I sat in bed visualising my journey back home.
  • All I cared about was landing on Kenyan soil. I felt that I was ready to confront whatever challenges awaited me back home.

On May 18, 13 days after my landlord left, 13 uneventful days of emotional shifts between hope and hopelessness, not to mention fatigue from the endless rest and mental exhaustion from trying to figure it all out, I finally got some news that raised my spirits and stabilised by flagging hope.

At about 7pm, I got a text that read, “I hope you have filled the form.”

My heart pounding almost out of my chest, I quickly replied, “Which form?” and breathlessly waited for the answer.

You see, the sender of the text was the Mainland representative, the man that had informed me back in April that the Kenyan Embassy in Nigeria would facilitate our repatriation if we could rally a group of 50 willing to pay their fare back home.

Coming from him, such a text meant all kinds of good things. When I heard the notification tone alerting me that I had a message, I had been online catching up with friends - it was a normal boring evening and I wasn’t expecting any good news.

He responded almost immediately with a link taking me to the “form”. The form felt like the best gift I had ever received in my life.

It was akin to a lifeline, and as I stared at it right there on my laptop, my whole being was infused by an immediate burst of energy, and I could hardly sit still as I carefully filled it, a smile on my face.

GREAT RELIEF

The form had five questions that required us to give our names, location, contacts and details on our identification documents. Within a few minutes, I had submitted it.

I couldn't wait to share this good news with those near and dear to me, but I felt that I needed more information. For instance, how many were we because the requirement was that we had to be at least 50?

“They probably got the numbers, otherwise we wouldn’t be filling any forms,” I told myself.

And then I wondered with alarm how other Kenyans stranded in Nigeria were getting such crucial information yet I was in the dark.

Did they have a WhatsApp group? I needed to be where the real-time information was. My thoughts were spiralling out of control as I sat in my room, silently praying that this would be the break I had been fervently hoping for.

I imagined finally travelling home the following week, and I can tell you that it was an exhilarating thought.

After texting all these questions to my contact, he informed me that yes, there was a WhatsApp group, and yes, I would be added to it.

I was greatly relieved to find out that it had been created a few days prior to that text, so I hadn’t missed much.

JOYFUL DAY

Then, much to my elation, he informed me that the numbers were rising quickly, that in a day or two, we would be on target.

That night, as you can imagine, I did not sleep. I was too excited at the prospect of finally flying back home and reuniting with my family.

After informing my friends and family of the new developments and sharing in the joy with them, I sat in bed visualising my journey back home.

Even though a lot had been written on the local news in Kenya regarding the state of the quarantine facilities, especially the deplorable conditions of some of them, as well as the additional days some were forced to spend there, I wasn’t worried about finding myself in such a situation.

All I cared about was landing on Kenyan soil. I felt that I was ready to confront whatever challenges awaited me back home.

The possibility of meeting everyone that I had missed so much and the visual picture of familiar food, especially my favourite, rice and beef stew, was now beginning to look like a real possibility.

Though my bed here was very comfortable, I couldn’t wait to sleep on my own bed, in my own home and finally relax on my own couch – there were many familiar things I looked forward to when I finally made it back to Kenya.

WHATSAPP GROUP

However, I wondered what the new normal that everyone kept talking about would look like, because there was no doubt that life as we knew it would never be the same again.

By the evening of May 19, I still had not been added to the WhatsApp group, and my anxiety, which had subsided, returned with full force.

The apprehension of missing out on crucial information was out of control. I texted my contact again, and thankfully, I was finally added to the group.

Just one glance and I immediately realised I wasn’t the only one stranded here.

Ms Ndinda is Research Manager, Transform Research Africa Limited. She is stuck in Nigeria, where she has been since March 21. TOMORROW: Our representatives, who are in talks with Kenya Airways and the Kenyan Embassy in Nigeria, inform us that the repatriation had been initiated, but will take about two weeks.