A MUM from Stroud has pleaded for help to get her son home from Panama where he has been stranded for three months.
Frances Clark-Stone’s son Jem, 22, joined his girlfriend Rosanna Marini in the North American country on Valentine’s Day this year where they were volunteering at the Tribal Gathering festival which was held near to an exotic jungle.
The festival finished on March 14 and the couple had planned to spend a couple of weeks travelling as their return flight home was due on March 31.
But once they left, police stopped them at the first Panamanian town they arrived at and they were detained.
Jem, who works as a landscaper, and Rosanna were then taken to the airport and told to go home but they didn’t have any flights booked, so they instead went to a nearby hostel where they realised the severity of the coronavirus pandemic that was unfolding after initially being unaware after the lack of wifi at the festival.
The couple managed to find an Airbnb about an hour outside of Panama City at a reduced price where they have been staying since.
Jem and Rosanna had flights booked for May 5 but the authorities declared a state of emergency and the airports were closed for 30 days.
The country has also implemented extremely strict lockdown rules in which residents are not allowed out between 5pm and 5am, and men are only allowed out two days a week for two hours.
Frances said that the airports may not reopen this month at all.
She said: “We really hoped he would be home by now and we’re really sad he isn’t.
“We’d love to know that he’s coming home in two weeks, or four weeks.
“But not knowing, and worrying that he could be there indefinitely is really hard.”
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said:“We recognise it is a difficult time for many British travellers abroad due to unprecedented international travel restrictions that have been introduced in many countries including Panama.
“Our Embassy in Panama is in regular contact with British nationals and continues to provide support.
“We are working closely with our international partners to secure seats for British nationals on potential future flights, including to European countries where commercial routes to the UK are available.”
Frances said the couple also no longer have medical insurance.
“Jem’s a bit low now and has said it feels like Groundhog Day,” she said.
“It was his first time travelling and he’s really missing Stroud and his mates, and being a landscaper he probably would have been able to have gone back to work now.”
Frances has joined a petition for the British Embassy and Foreign Office to organise flights home.
To sign, visit https://bit.ly/3ctqHaz