MUSKEGON, Mich. — Luke Sessink from Muskegon just became an RN (Registered Nurse). He signed up to volunteer for six weeks at a community medical clinic in Cusco Peru, but now he's stuck there.
"He's an amazing young man," said Luke's mom Mary Sessink of Muskegon.
Mary has been frantically contacting everyone she can think of to help Luke get back from Peru.
Luke, a 2015 graduate of Reeths-Puffer High School is currently staying with a host family in Cusco. The morning after he arrived in country the Peruvian government declared a national state of emergency, imposing a mandatory national quarantine, closing all international borders and ending air travel.
Luke said during a FaceTime interview Friday he was told prior to the trip there was no reason to cancel the volunteer mission.
"Seemed like everything was going to be fine. I emailed my organization, I checked all of the government postings," he said.
When Luke learned airlines were ordered to stop flying out of Peru he, like many other international travelers, rushed to the airport.
"I immediately packed up everything and went because I didn't want to be stuck," he said. "The airport was insane, I could barely tell what line was for what."
Mary Sessink says according to a spreadsheet on the "Americans Stuck In Peru" Facebook page there are 1,599 Americans in the same position as her son.
Luke says he's trying to stay positive while waiting for international flights from Peru to resume. In the meantime the community where he's staging is under a mandatory police enforced curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
"Things are really intense," Luke said. "They're like stopping people on the street, the police, to question them where they're going."
At this time Luke doesn't expect flights to resume until April 1 at the earliest.
"I'm like trying my best to stay positive and everything," he said. "It's been like wearing down mentally."
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga said Friday anyone with family members abroad should enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It's how the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will communicate information.
The number to Huizenga's Grandville office is 616-570-0917.
Huizenga's staff are currently assisting nearly 100 West Michigan residents who are abroad.
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