Cake for dinner on your seventh birthday could make any celebration perfect - but there was one thing missing for Sofia Huamash, her mother.

Emma Huamash Bejarano has become increasingly desperate to come home after spending the past three weeks trying to catch a flight out of Peru.

But after multiple countries closed their borders and enforced rapid lockdown laws in a bid to slow the spread of the Covid-19, Huamash Bejarano began hunting for a way to get home - with no luck.

The Te Puke woman has been in South America since January visiting her mother and extended family, her husband Lawrence Charles said.


She had gone to visit after a tragic explosion claimed the lives of three of her nieces and nephews, and was helping to cook and clean for her brother's family.

Emma Huamash Bejarano (left) is trapped in South America away from her husband Lawrence Charles and daughters, Isabella Huamash, 9, and Sofia Huamash, 6. Photo / Supplied
Emma Huamash Bejarano (left) is trapped in South America away from her husband Lawrence Charles and daughters, Isabella Huamash, 9, and Sofia Huamash, 6. Photo / Supplied

However, eight Kiwis previously stranded in South America arrived back home at the weekend thanks to a charter flight - but not Huamash Bejarano stranded in Peru.

Chimu Adventures chartered a LATAM aircraft on Friday to bring 136 Australians and eight New Zealanders home from where they were stuck in South America.

Charles said Huamash Bejarano had not been contacted about the Chimu Adventures flight and was still hoping to find a way home.

At this stage, she was scheduled to fly home in early May, if the flight is not cancelled.

The couple had sought help from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) but had not received any assistance to get Huamash Bejarano home.

"She's been in lockdown since about March 16th or 17th."

The silver lining was that she was with family and had a bed to sleep in but Charles feared she might not make it home for another two or three months.


"She's calling me day in day out more stressed every day."

He said his wife was becoming "worried and desperate" as each day went by.

Charles was working fulltime from home while also caring for the couple's two daughters, aged 6 and 9.

"I don't have any other family in Oceania so if I go down my two young girls have no one, really. It's kind of a bad situation that I don't want to be in."

An email sent to Huamash Bejarano from Mfat last week said the New Zealand Government was considering all possible options for helping New Zealanders overseas.

Emma Huamash Bejarano (pictured) is trapped in South America away from her husband Lawrence Charles and daughters, Isabella Huamash, 9, and Sofia Huamash, 6. Photo / Supplied
Emma Huamash Bejarano (pictured) is trapped in South America away from her husband Lawrence Charles and daughters, Isabella Huamash, 9, and Sofia Huamash, 6. Photo / Supplied

"The situation is extremely complex and changing quickly and some things are out of our control," it said.

"This is an increasingly difficult situation and we fully appreciate the heightened stress many travellers are facing. There is some advice on SafeTravel for sheltering in place, including some contingency planning for New Zealanders overseas."

An Mfat spokeswoman would not comment on Huamash Bejarano's case but directed the Times to the SafeTravel website.

"We recognise that not all New Zealanders who want to return home are able to do so. New Zealanders who cannot return home, for the time being, should take steps to stay safely where they are," the website said.

"The Government is committed to helping New Zealanders overseas where we can. But the international situation is complex and changing quickly, and some things are out of our control. Assisted departure flights should not be relied upon to get home."

The Charter

This flight on Friday was the second Chimu Adventures have recently chartered to help travellers stuck in South America return home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"These responsive border situations also caused issues for Chimu Adventures' charter cruise on the MV Ocean Atlantic," said co-founder of Chimu Adventures, Greg Carter.

"This ship was returning from Antarctica and due to disembark passengers in Puerto Madryn, in Argentina, on March 21. New restrictions meant that port authorities in Puerto Madryn would not allow passengers to disembark there.

There are 52 confirmed with 30 probable cases of Covid-19, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says. That brings the total number of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand to 950.

"We quite literally found ourselves in uncharted waters, in this unprecedented time, as we entered a long process of navigating multiple governments and restrictions in a bid to get our travellers home.

"Multiple ports in Argentina would not allow us to disembark and commercial flight options for New Zealand and Australian travellers to return to home rapidly vanished.

"In the end our only option was dock in Montevideo and try to charter a plane to get Kiwis and Australians home from Uruguay."

The travellers were given a clean bill of health by medical professionals, Carter said.

"Chartering a commercial aircraft to transit international borders, when you are not an airline, is not easy at the best of times. Let alone during a pandemic.

"Working with wildly fluctuating currency dollar rates, ever-changing travel and border restrictions, lawyers, insurance companies, governments, airport and port authorities, made piecing the jigsaw together incredibly difficult.

"As we processed and thought we had everything in place, another obstacle would arise which saw our goal posts shift frequently. We are so relieved, after working around the clock for two weeks, that the flight is finally underway."

Chimu Adventures' Rachel Williams said they were still trying to help other Kiwis who are stuck.

"We are willing and able to further assist, via our own operations network on the ground in South America, should that be required by the airlines or the New Zealand Government."

SafeTravel's advice for Kiwis trapped overseas to stay safe where they are

• Follow the advice of local authorities. Be ready to comply with local isolation or quarantine requirements and to rely on the local health system. Find out how to access healthcare in case it becomes necessary to do so

• Take care to minimise your risk of exposure to Covid-19 by following the advice of the World Health Organisation and New Zealand Ministry of Health

• Find suitable accommodation

• Make sure you have access to enough medication if you are overseas for longer than planned

• Keep your family and friends regularly informed of your plans and wellbeing

• Monitor local media for developments

• Be prepared for logistical and financial disruption. Make sure you can access money to cover emergencies and unexpected delays. New Zealanders facing financial hardship overseas should seek assistance from family or friends or contact their bank in the first instance. Check with your insurance provider to see if they can help

• Look after yourself – your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Stay in touch with your usual supports – family and whānau, friends and workmates, especially if you are self-isolating. Further tips can be found on the Government's website (

• Register on SafeTravel and keep checking the website for updates

• For more detailed country-specific advice, check the office travel advice of the US, UK and Australia too

• Contact your nearest New Zealand Embassy or Consulate if you require consular assistance. Contact details are listed in each country page on the SafeTravel website. For urgent consular assistance after-hours, please contact 0064 99 20 20 20 (monitored 24 hours a day). The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website