By the time her baby daughter, Leah was born, everybody at Letterkenny University Hospital knew Gimee Etwarysing. “They would say, ‘You’re the lady who got stuck here’,” her sister Swatee Dunne says. “She was the talk of the maternity ward.”

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Gimee Etwarysing with her baby, Leah, in her sister’s home in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

Etwarysing has been stranded in Ireland since March. She is from Triolet, a village in the north of Mauritius, and was visiting her sister and her family in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, when the first case of coronavirus was identified in her home country. Mauritius shut its airports, leaving Etwarysing – and other Mauritians – unable to return home.

But there was an added complication. Just before she left Etwarysing had discovered she was pregnant; the longer the lockdown went on, the less likely it was that she would be able to travel back to Mauritius to give birth.

Gimee Etwarysing and Leah.

“It was very scary,” she says. “I was afraid for the baby. All I wanted was to have a safe pregnancy, and I was worried about the baby and worried about me. All I wanted was to get home, and I couldn’t.”

She had her first scans in Ireland; at 21 weeks, it showed the baby’s growth was slowing down, and she was advised not to travel.

“I realised I was going to have to stay and have the baby here,” Etwarysing says. “I did feel less stressed after deciding to stay, I did accept it, but I was still homesick.”

Baby Leah.

Her partner and family back home in Mauritius were worried, “especially my dad – he was ringing every day to see if I was okay – and my partner was going to come and visit, but he couldn’t.”

All were thankful she was with her sister, especially as the pregnancy was a difficult one, with hospital appointments once and sometimes twice a week to check the baby’s growth.

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