Home sweet home: Mandurah teen returns to WA after months stuck in Bolivia

Kiara Fitze will finally touch down on West Australian soil this weekend, bringing to end her near 10-month stint of lockdown in Bolivia.

The Mandurah 14-year-old has spent the entirety of her 2020 in the South American nation, stuck there after COVID-19 gripped the world in the middle of her annual trip to see her father.

Kiara departed Australia to visit her dad in December, originally planning to return in July.

But she soon found herself living through a foreign nation's lockdown after the pandemic took hold.

Ever since, her path home has been blocked by cancelled flights, unprecedented travel restrictions and a cap on the amount of returning travelers allowed to enter WA.

"It's been a nightmare," her mother Miriam said.

"A logistical nightmare."

Mandurah teen Kiara Fitze will return home after almost 10 months of lockdown in Bolivia. Photo: Supplied.

Mandurah teen Kiara Fitze will return home after almost 10 months of lockdown in Bolivia. Photo: Supplied.

Miriam has been fighting hard for the better part of six months to reunite her daughter with her two sisters at their home in Herron.

That fight has been made up of constant phone calls, email chains and hours spent researching ways to get Kiara on a plane.

"So many flights just continued to be cancelled," she said.

"Since airlines can only return a certain number of people to Australia, they prioritised business class and Kiara kept having to find a new flight."

The outlook was grim, but a recent breakthrough gave Miriam reason to feel optimistic.

Travelling as an unaccompanied minor, Kiara would be exempt from hotel quarantine upon her return and would be able to serve her two weeks at home.

This means she would not count against Western Australia's daily cap of returning overseas travelers, making it easier to get her on a plane home.

But communicating that to overseas airlines wasn't so simple.

"I kept trying to tell them that she won't count against the intake of travelers but it was really hard to get that across," Miriam said.

Then, after months of tireless effort to get her daughter back home, Miriam received the greatest of news.

Miriam and Kiara say farewell at the airport in December. Photo: Supplied.

Miriam and Kiara say farewell at the airport in December. Photo: Supplied.

A flight had finally opened up for Kiara, with October 16 marked for her departure.

"For the last two weeks I've just been pinching myself," Miriam said.

"To be completely honest, I'd almost lost hope of seeing her before the end of the year.

"To know she's coming home, it's just amazing."

Kiara and Miriam will quarantine together at a residence in Falcon, giving them two weeks to reconnect before heading home to Herron.

"I can't wait," Miriam said.

"We're going to be baking cookies, watching Netflix, doing some yoga - I'm just so excited."

While the rest of Kiara's family will have to wait a further two weeks to give her a hug, they have planned a drive-by to show her their love this weekend.