An Abbotsford family of five who was stranded in Vietnam due to the COVID-19 pandemic is now safely back home.
Stephen and Leilani Janzen and their three kids – Keanan, 9, Keona, 8, and Mekaiah, 6 – arrived home earlier this week, Stephen said in an email to The Abbotsford News.
He said the embassy in Hanoi worked hard to get them a flight home after the family went public with their story.
“Since our story broke, we have experienced a huge outpouring of support from our family, friends and community,” Stephen said.
“We really believe we would not have gotten home without our story being brought to the public.”
Stephen said there are still other Canadian families stuck in Vietnam.
“This is through no fault of their own, as many Canadians, including our family, booked tickets when we heard our government urge Canadians to come home. The situation literally changed overnight with no warning and no flights.”
The Janzens began what was supposed to be a dream six-month vacation in Southeast Asia in November.
Stephen is a bus driver and their kids are home-schooled.
Their original flight home was booked for April 20, but they changed their plans as the pandemic spread.
On March 14, they booked a flight home from Hanoi on March 24. It was the first available flight they could find that was within their budget, as most ticket prices had skyrocketed from around $700 to a minimum of $3,200 per person.
But on March 19, the federal government urged all Canadians to return home as soon as possible.
The Janzens could not find an earlier flight, and then found that their flight on March 24 had been cancelled.
They tried to connect with Global Affairs Canada but they received repeated messages that the lines were full, or their calls were disconnected.
But the Janzens said they want to send a “huge and heartfelt thank you” to everyone involved in helping them getting back home, including those who called the office of Abbotsford MP Ed Fast and other government agencies.
“Our heart goes out to Canadians abroad who are trapped in ‘low priority’ countries. Perhaps the priority of ‘all Canadians’ during this time is something our leader can reflect and dialogue on,” Stephen said.