They were just about to board a flight to see their children for the first time in a year when The Philippines announced a national lockdown at the start of the pandemic.
Hull nurses Michio Abe and husband Lieffen Schuck had no choice but to abandon their plans and return to Hull from London.
Now, two years on, the couple have finally been reunited with their children Yumi, 14 and seven year-old Yuri.
Michio, a Junior Charge Nurse on the Winter Ward at Hull Royal Infirmary, said: “We hadn’t seen them for three years as they were being looked after back in the Philippines by our families while we came here to make a better life for everyone.
“It’s worked out so well because we’ve managed to save enough to buy a home in Hull for us all with our own mortgage. We will have a far better quality of life here than we ever would have back in the Philippines.
“The children are still adjusting to the cold because it’s 34 degrees all the time in the Philippines so the weather has come as a surprise to them but they’ll get used to it. It’s just great that we can all be together again.”
The couple decided to apply for nursing roles in the UK with international recruitment agency Resource Finder.
They chose Hull because Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust does not expect successful candidates to pay the costs of their recruitment and training upfront and then reimburse them later, like some other organisations.
Michio and Lieffen were also drawn to the city because of the way of life, the lower cost of living here compared to other cities and the opportunities available to them.
Michio said: “We wanted to establish our family here in Hull, especially when we found out that the cost of living was really cheap. We really want to save as much money as we can to send back to our families.
“When we knew we couldn’t go home, we saw it as a good thing because we were able to work lots of overtime before we could bring the children here.
“Because of that, we can now make a good life for our family, far better than we could have in the Philippines where the salaries aren’t as good and you have to work and work so there’s no time to spend together.
“The trust is also really good at taking care of its employees and are really accommodating. Simon Nearney, the Director of Workforce, is always asking us how we are and checking we are all ok so we feel like we’re being looked after.
“The nurse educators, led by Karen Mechen, are always there for us to guide and look after us especially with OSCE, which is a big part of the training and qualifications we need to obtain to practice here.”