Pandemic turns mum’s NQ visit into indefinite stay limbo

 

A mother-of-two has been waiting in limbo after a 60-day visit to see her daughters turned into an extended stay.

Indian-born Kavitha Wali, 58, travelled from Bangalore in southern India on February 13 last year to visit her two daughters, Samantha Lobbo and Shania Lobbo who moved to Townsville in 2019 to pursue their careers.

Samantha works as a health specialist with the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network while Shania is studying occupational therapy at JCU.

Ms Wali said she was excited about her Australian holiday.

"I came to help my daughter settle into university because I was a little worried about her," she said. "But I was looking forward to exploring Townsville with my daughters like visiting Magnetic Island, Billabong Sanctuary and nearby national parks."

After the coronavirus pandemic shut down the world in March, Ms Wali was reluctant to return home.

So far India has recorded 10.5 million COVID-19 infections with 150,000 deaths.

While Ms Wali has lived in Douglas with her daughters, she has been absorbing tropical life.

"Most of my time was spent at home cooking, gardening and as rules eased, heading out for walks nearby to beautiful Ross River where I interacted with the lovely locals," she said.

"During my walks, I have found different trees and plants that remind me of my hometown which has been nice."

It is uncertain when Ms Wali will return home as her husband and siblings are urging her to stay in Australia while India controls the spread of coronavirus.

"It is very difficult for the people in my city because we don't live in houses like in Townsville; the houses are very close to one another and (the virus) tends to spread faster," she said.

Kavitha Wali, with her daughters Samantha Lobbo and Shania Lobbo, has been stuck in Townsville because of COVID-19 since February last year. Picture: Evan Morgan
Kavitha Wali, with her daughters Samantha Lobbo and Shania Lobbo, has been stuck in Townsville because of COVID-19 since February last year. Picture: Evan Morgan

"My daughters felt it would be best if I stay with them here than head back, given that I had a year long valid visitor visa," she said.

Ms Wali will renew her visa in February for another 12 months to wait until it is safe for her to return home.

Although Ms Wali is grateful to be safe during the global crisis she said living in Townsville had been a difficult transition.

"In my home town I can do many things. I'm used to a busy city and Townsville is a very quiet place," she said.

"I miss my daily routine of drawing rangoli, lighting diyas, visiting temples and more importantly the independence to move around back home.

"I miss constantly interacting with our relatives, neighbours and friends throughout the day and sharing a chat. Also, the independence to travel around is something that has been a challenge," she said.

Originally published as Pandemic turns mum's NQ visit into indefinite stay limbo


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