A KINGS Clipstone man who was reunited with his family on Christmas Eve after being stranded in storm-hit Cuba for more than three weeks says he feels over the moon to be home again.
Yogi Depass (27) had been detained in Santiago de Cuba since returning to help his mum recover from Superstorm Sandy which destroyed her home in November.
Despite having dual nationality, border officials detained Yogi because he did not have a Cuban passport and he has had to apply for the new documentation.
Yogi’s partner Leah Hall and their young daughter Jaylah had been desperate for Yogi to get home for Christmas and had been holding fundraising events to help pay for this plane ticket.
The issue was even raised by Sherwood MP Mark Spencer in parliament last week in Prime Minister’s Question Time with David Cameron saying he was putting pressure on Cuban authorities to speed up Yogi’s return.
And just two days before Christmas, Yogi finally received his passport and came home to an emotional reunion with Leah and 15-month old Jaylah at Birmingham Airport.
“It feels amazing to be home, this has been an experience and a half, it has been surreal but when I saw Leah and Jaylah and gave them both a kiss it all felt real again,” he said.
“It feels great to be back on English soil, it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
“Jaylah came straight up to me and gave me a hug, I wasn’t sure if she would but she did.”
Yogi spent 27 days in Cuba living in his mum’s storm-damaged house along with other relatives living on rice and beans every day and using buckets of water to shower in.
“It was really hard, there was nothing to do, I was having to sleep on an old mattress with my mum and cousin,” he added.
“We had to boil water in the yard to make it a bit warmer for a shower, it was all very surreal, I used to watch kids on the street playing baseball with a stick and bottle top.
“People were stringing up dead cats on the street and my mum was telling me it was all people had to eat, I feel very lucky to have escaped that country when I was seven years old.
“I feel so glad to be home and back with my family and I’d like to thank Leah, Jaylah, the Vella family, Michael Oduba and Wayne Savage for all their support as well as everyone else.”
His partner Leah says she was unable to hold back the tears when she saw her long-term partner again.
“It was amazing, it was very emotional but I feel very happy at the same time,” she said.
“He’s lost a bit of weight but managed to get a haircut before he came home and I think he’s been running on adrenalin ever since.
“I’d just like to thank everyone in the community for all their help and support, everyone has been amazing.”