Bright World Guardianship Care Manager, Robbie Piper gives a heartfelt account as he aims to reunite two young students online with their family overseas.
“Our students don’t miss flights,” I was told when I started my role with Bright World back in 2017. But nothing could have prepared me for just how meaningful this mantra would become until the race against border closures laid heavily on my shoulders back in March this year.
The Coronavirus pandemic was to some, a complete surprise, creeping up without warning and without a sound. For myself and the other Bright World Guardianship Care Managers, it was something that was on our minds from the end of January. Throughout the first few months of the year, we tried to remain one step ahead, doing all we could to keep a sense of pace during this unpredictable pandemic.
Despite my best endeavours, some of my students were unable to make it home in time to be with their families. As a father myself I can only imagine the anguish and worry this would cause and so since then I have been committed to keeping in touch with our parents and helping to keep them connected with those they love the most.
Two of my students; Nurbibi and Aynur (pictured here) remain here in the UK with one of our dedicated and caring host families, Abiana Micah. Their parents have told me that there are no cases of COVID-19 in Turkmenistan, but the borders were closed for international travel in February and have not yet re-opened. At this time, they are hopeful that flights may be available soon as the situation improves in the UK.
I was recently able to reunite Aynur and Nurbibi with their parents during one of my video calls to help ensure they keep in close contact during the UK lockdown. The girls' parents were full of praise for Bright World and were very thankful and grateful for our service and the help and assistance we have provided throughout.
Aynur’s mother Selbi was at one point almost crying during the video and seemed very emotional. I have to admit that I found it difficult to remain composed and professional throughout, as I just wanted to reunite them.
After the meeting, it hit me quite hard how the parents are missing their children with them not being able to return home. Aynur and Nurbibi have, however, bravely taken it all in their stride and are quite happy with being with the host family, although I am sure they too want to go home.
According to their hosts, both girls are content and have settled into a routine. The hosts are learning more about their likes and dislikes and mealtimes are particularly enjoyed by everyone.
During the online meeting, their mother, Selbi was at home with Aynur and Nurbibi’s younger sister (pictured on the lap of Nurbibi). It was the moment that the little one pointed at her sisters on the screen that I realised the gravity of the situation that separated this family.
Sary, the father joined the call from his work and again was thankful, describing Bright World as "the best company in the world." This brought some light to the situation, as although I know we are one of the best at what we do, his feedback seems to outdo any I have heard before or have come to hear since.
Our focus now as guardians has to be helping schools to facilitate a safe return for students this Autumn. In cooperation with our partner schools, agents and parents we have formulated our 6 point enhanced service plan for a safe return of students in September.
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At Bright World we are planning for a safe September return for our students.
We are delighted to be part of a forward-thinking cooperation of schools and guardians called Safe Schools UK.