Natalie Jordaan thought she’d only be vacationing in South Africa for a couple of weeks before returning to China in January. But as you know, the first COVID-19 case was already reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China.
Natalie, who is South African, married husband Shiru Zhang a couple of years ago in SA. Shiru, who studied and lived in South Africa at the time, got a job in Hong Kong soon after he and Natalie wed, and so the couple started their new, exciting life abroad.
Natalie gave birth to both her kids, now 2 and 5-years-old, in Hong Kong, giving them dual citizenship to both SA and Hong Kong.
“We come back to SA every year for Christmas holidays; unfortunately, by the time we were supposed to return to China in January 2020, we received a notification that the children’s school was not opening due to the virus, and neither was the company at which I had just gotten a new job. At the time, Shiru was working in Bangladesh, and he was also struggling to get back to China,” Natalie says.
“We decided, considering the circumstances, that it was better to simply just not go back. We got a moving company in China to pack up our lives there and send it to us. It actually became a trend in Shanghai for many expats. Moving companies offered a service where they would pack everything and handle all of the affairs, as many expats were stuck overseas.”
Life back in SA
“I’m living with my mom for now (my father passed away 10 years ago). It has been wonderful for the kids and Ouma to have so much time together.
Shiru is currently staying with his parents to help out with things like grocery shopping, pharmacy runs, and other errands during COVID-19 and the lockdown in Beijing. We decided that as our jobs fell through (due to the lockdown and companies closing down), and not knowing the duration of the pandemic and its affects, it didn’t make sense to continue renting the apartment in Shanghai – especially as it’s unlikely we will return,” Natalie says.
Because he is a Chinese citizen, Shiru is not able to apply for a repatriation flight to South Africa to be with his family. He’ll have to wait until borders open again and international flights resume before he’ll be able to be reunited with his family
The kids haven’t seen their dad in 8 months. How are you handling this?
“Although the children miss their dad very much, we are keeping them happy and also letting them understand the situation (without scaring them too much with the details of the pandemic),” says Natalie.
She says thanks to modern technology, the kids can easily talk to their dad whenever they want. They also video call their grandparents in Beijing.
It’s not all doom and gloom
Natalie and Shiru were planning on moving back to SA at the end of 2020, so the move wasn’t completely unplanned – just a little earlier than expected. She says lockdown in South Africa with the two kids is definitely way easier than it would have been in their 11th floor Shanghai apartment.
“Despite our lives being turned upside down, I’ve been selected as one of the top 50 contestants for Mrs South Africa 2020. I’m very excited about this journey,” says Natalie.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.