One man stranded abroad shares the plight of Moroccans aching to return home during the COVID-19 crisis.
In difficult times we should count our blessings first and foremost. I shall begin by doing so.
I thank God that my loved ones and I are healthy. I am in Algiers, one of the most beautiful cities in the Arab world.
Restaurants and cafes are closed, but supermarket shelves are full and prices are stable.
This is not my country, but I can speak the language, so I am not as isolated as I could be on the rare occasions I do go out.
People here are scared by the spread of the novel coronavirus, but they are also generous and courageous.
Those I have met since arriving two weeks ago have done everything they can to make me feel at home.
They have prepared and brought food to my house and have checked in on me regularly by telephone and through social media.
In spite of everything, I am not at home here. The simplicity of those few words—I am not at home—cannot express the weight of anguish and suffering I feel.
My wife and children are a few hundred kilometers away in our native Morocco, but I can do nothing for them.
My family needs me like never before, and because I am a husband and father before anything else, my inability to be there for them has robbed me of my own sense of purpose and self.
My family is getting by for now, but the margin of error in our lives has been reduced to almost nothing.
At any time, their situation could become urgent. My helplessness could shift from a personal, emotional plight to the difference between my family’s life and death.
The Moroccan government has given no indication that it is willing to repatriate its citizens, for fear of allowing infected people into the country. The uncertainty of not knowing how long this will last haunts me.
I am willing to undergo quarantine for as long as is necessary in order to start the journey back to my loved ones—in fact, I had been planning to self-isolate before the government announced that it was closing its borders. I have no doubt that my exiled compatriots feel similarly.
This is my message to my government: Please, help us. Help me and my fellow Moroccans scattered around the globe to return home.
Just as I would never abandon my family or country, I am begging the Moroccan government not to abandon us. Call, write, and remind our decision-makers that there is only one place where Moroccans belong right now: At home supporting and being supported by our loved ones.
From Algiers, with love.