Mandurah teenager stuck in Bolivia, unable to return home

Imagine having your daughter stuck on the other side of the world in the midst of a global pandemic.

That's the reality for Herron mother Miriam Fitze, whose daughter Kiara has been living life in lockdown in Bolivia for the past eight months.

The 14-year-old made her annual trip to the South American nation to see her father in December, where she planned to stay until July.

Little did she know she wouldn't be able to return home.

Unprecedented restrictions on overseas travel have seen her remain in Bolivia, unable to board a plane with no flights leaving or entering the country.

The Australian Embassy originally offered flights out of Bolivia at the height of COVID-19, but only from the capital city of La Paz, which is a treacherous 11-hour bus ride away.

Miriam bids farewell to Kiara at the airport in December. Photo: Supplied.

Miriam bids farewell to Kiara at the airport in December. Photo: Supplied.

And even if able to board that plane, Kiara would have had to quarantine in Sydney for two weeks before carrying out a further fortnight of isolation in Perth.

Read more:

Meanwhile her mother, her sisters Melody and Tzuriya, her pony Tinkerbell and her cockerspaniel Oscar desperately await the return of their loved one.

"I was in tears the other night - I miss her so much," Miriam said.

"We're a very close family, so to be apart for this long, it's hard."

Four months of Kiara's time in Bolivia was spent in total lockdown, and even with eased restrictions she is still not allowed further than 500m from her home.

Kiara and mum Miriam chat via FaceTime every day, but the unknown of the situation has taken its toll.

"To not know when she's coming back, that's the hardest part," Miriam said.

"She asks me when she might be able to come back and I honestly can't tell her, because who knows?

"It's already been eight months and it could be a really long time before we see each other again."

Kiara Fitze (second right) with mum Miriam (far right) and sisters Melody and Tzuriya. Photo: Supplied.

Kiara Fitze (second right) with mum Miriam (far right) and sisters Melody and Tzuriya. Photo: Supplied.

Usually a student at Foundation Christian College, Kiara has since been studying online through the WA School of Isolated and Distanced Education.

A lack of materials has forced her to change subjects and thrown obstacles in her path, but Miriam said she couldn't be more proud of the resilience her daughter had shown in the face of an enormous challenge.

"Honestly, I'm so proud of how she has handled this entire situation," she said.

"It's such a huge thing for any 14-year-old girl to go through, and she's had her bad days but all in all she's taken it in her stride.

"She's learning so many valuable life skills through this experience. Stuff that goes beyond academics."

WA Premier Mark McGowan said it could be "months, or even a year" before the state reopens its borders.

Mark McGowan has conceded it may be "months" until the WA border can reopen. Photo: File image.

Mark McGowan has conceded it may be "months" until the WA border can reopen. Photo: File image.

"It's a long way away. I can't put a date on it, but it is certainly months," he told reporters at a press conference earlier this month.

"As to whether it's before the end of the year, as to whether it's before the middle of next year, I cannot put a date on it."

While uncertain of when Kiara will be able to return home, Miriam is certain of one thing.

"I just want to give her a big hug," she said.

"I can't wait for that."