Sirli Kellian plans to leave Australia for good due to being stranded for months in Estonia, with no affordable way to return to her daughter’s country of birth until next year.
Image: Sirli Kellian)
A new mom and baby are stranded thousands of miles from home after rushing to the bedside of a dying family member.
Sirli Kellian and her young daughter Rubi are two of 38,000 Australians lining up to return to the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The 31-year-old is currently in Estonia where she flew in April to visit her dying mother Piret, who has end-stage stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Sirli had to leave her husband Isaac at their home outside Perth for fear of missing the opportunity to say a final goodbye to her dying son.
Five months later, the chances of the mother and her one-year-old child returning to Australia this year, which recently halved the number of return passengers to 3,070 per week, are slim.
The toll of family separation has been so heavy that Isaac has taken leave of absence due to his mental health and the couple are now considering relocating to their homeland of New Zealand.
“My partner says he’s fine, but when he found out we couldn’t come back and the next available flight we could change to might be in January, he had to take a week off due to mental illness, âSirli told the Miroiter.
âMy daughter doesn’t quite understand the concept yet. We face Isaac every day. It’s very difficult.
“I’m glad I went, but every day I wonder if I made a mistake. The only good part that keeps me from having a complete nervous breakdown is being here with my parents.”
Sirli, who is originally from Estonia but now has Australian citizenship, met Isaac on a Down Under hike nine years ago.
They had planned to present their baby to the family’s European wing when she was one year old, but the pandemic struck.
Australia has taken a very proactive approach to controlling the virus, tightly controlling borders and requiring inbound travelers to quarantine for up to two weeks in hotels at their own expense.
While Sirli was aware of the hardships and cost of leaving and then re-entering the country, she realized she should take action when her mother fell ill in December 2020.
âIt took three months, but then she was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer,â she said.
“From there it was in the back of our minds, what would we do if something happened? Would I go or not?
âAround April, we decided that we didn’t know how long the pandemic would last.
âThe decision was the most difficult we have ever had to make. Willingly break up a young family without knowing when we will be reunited.
“But we had hope. We had hoped that the Australian government would take care of us and let us go home when the time came.”
After applying for a travel exemption that required him to explain how badly his sanity had been affected by the absence, Sirli left for Eastern Europe.
As soon as she could, she volunteered to get two shots from Pfizer, hoping it would make her return to Australia easier.
âBut in the meantime, the number of inbound passengers was halved again and two weeks before we got home on August 12, 2021, our flight to Perth was canceled,â she continued.
âTo be precise, our flight was not canceled but me and my 1 year old daughter were kicked out of the flight.
“All the Australian Embassy in Sweden could tell me was that it was a shame to hear about my situation but there was nothing they could do.”
Sirli is grateful that she was able to spend time with her mother, who is receiving hospice care.
However, she is keenly aware of being a financial burden on her family, who had not prepared to take care of the now unemployed restaurant manager for many months.
The only way Sirli and her daughter can get home before February of next year, when the next economy class flight is up for grabs, is to pay Â£ 8,000 for a business class flight.
âI didn’t have the money to come here in the first place, let alone to allow myself quarantine when I returned,â she said.
âBut we made it work. We scratched every penny we had to make to make this happen so I could see my sick mother one last time.
“We already had to access our super (pension funds) last year to survive. My husband continues to work long hours in Australia, paying taxes, to make sure we have food on the table. and bills paid to the house waiting for us to come back. “
Sirli says she feels intense pressure from Australians not to return and feels they don’t understand why she left during the pandemic.
She said: “I don’t see how this is fair. My husband and I are both citizens. Do we want to continue our life in Australia if this continues?
âMy husband is New Zealand. New Zealand would be very supportive of our situation. They want to bring their people home.
“Do we want to stay in Australia if that’s the way life is? We just feel like no one cares.”