A broke Ghanaian medical student John Minimade has been left stranded and sleeping at the airport in Barbados as he seeks to arrive home for his father's funeral on Friday, Ghanaguardian.com can reveal.
The 31-year-old, who studies at the American University in Kingstown in the island of St Vincent, found himself stranded in Barbados after he arriving to connect to his homeland via London last Thursday.
With no money and unable to make contact with his family, Minimade, a medical student, had to sleep at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) on Thursday and Friday, before two Good Samaritans came to his rescue.
Minimade, who studies at the American University in Kingstown, has been served a double blow because this unexpected twist threatens his chances to pay final respects to his father.
He was also informed he could not fly out of Barbados unless equipped with a transit visa. He was scheduled to board a Thomas Cooke flight to Manchester, and a British Airways flight to London and then onto Ghana.
“I lost my father, so I am to go back to Ghana for the funeral. Getting the money was a problem, so a friend in the US booked the ticket for me . . . . When I got here I learnt it would not be possible for me to do the transiting without the visa. I was originally told as long as I did not change airports, I would not need the transit visa. It was only after I got here, I was told no I could not go that way,” he told the MIDWEEK NATION yesterday.
“I pleaded with them to let me go, but they would not allow. On Saturday I met two ladies, Kay and Sue, who helped me to lodge myself as I sorted out these issues. They brought me to this place [at a guest house in Kingsland, Christ Church] . . . and paid for accommodations and food,” he said, expressing his thanks to them.
When he went to the British High Commission in Lower Collymore Rock, St Michael, yesterday morning,
he was given more bad news after he hoped that things would have been sorted out.
“When we went to the embassy they said they only work on Thursdays. The person who I spoke to said I should wait until Thursday, even though I explained that my situation is an emergency,” said Minimade despondently.
He added his family had since raised the money to get him home, but the problem was getting an alternative route, where he did not need a visa, to arrive in time for the funeral.
“As to how I will be able to get there before the funeral on Friday is the problem; so I am just wondering if it will be possible and I better go back to St Vincent,” he said.
As the eldest son of four children, the responsibility now falls to him as the man of the family.
“They are all counting on me as a man to come. This is another challenge. When I get there then I would know how to handle it . . . . With my school fees I am applying for a scholarship, but I have not got it, so I am going through some form of struggle before this one came to compound it,” he said, shaking his head.
Benefactor Joseph Brown said while he had assisted Minimade as best he could, he hoped he could get home on time.
“According to what he told me, I feel really bad for him and want him to go home to pay his final respects to his father,” Brown said.
Efforts to reach GAIA corporate communications specialist Keith Goddard and Immigration officials at the airport were unsuccessful.
However, a call to the British High Commission was directed to the global response centre. The representative, when asked, said the best thing for Minimade to do was to apply for a transit visa, but there was no guarantee he would get the document to make it in time to Ghana for the funeral.