An Irish man who pleaded with the authorities to fast track his visa application for his Filipino wife and child because of an outbreak of the deadly Dengue Fever in the Philippines is to shortly be reunited with his loved ones.
Mark Lane of Carrigaline, Co Cork was heartbroken when he was told that he wouldn't see his wife Marjo and daughter Erin for another five months because of the lengthy visa process.
Erin has an Irish passport although she was born in the Philippines.
Mark has already been separated from his family for ten months and has been working around the clock in order to decorate their new home and to pay for expenses.
The visa for mother and child has now been approved and Mark hopes that Erin will spend her first birthday in Ireland on September 8.
"I have the house decorated in pink and Minnie Mouse for Erin. I have all the books bought for her and can't wait to read to her. I am over the moon.
I can't believe it has happened. Meeting Marjo was like something in a movie. I knew 100% that I was going to marry her.
"I am going to rush out now and buy whole new wardrobes for Marjo and Erin. The coldest weather Marjo has ever experienced was in Australia. So it will be a big adjustment for her.”
Mr Lane requested that his visa be processed as a matter of urgency because Erin was bitten by a mosquito. Dengue fever has claimed over 500 lives in the Philippines this year.
Mark and Marjo spent a harrowing few days worrying about the possibility of Erin having contracted the fever.
"Marjo never left her side for a second in hospital. I was absolutely broken that I couldn't be there for them through all that. Not being able to help your child when she is sick is heartbreaking."
Marjo and Erin are without running water and there have been a number of earthquakes in the area where they live.
Mark says he goes to bed every night worrying about the safety of mother and child.
The 42-year-old will make the 44-hour journey from Dublin to Dubai to Manila and then on to the remote fishing village of Calbayog in the coming days.
He says he will never forget the devastation he experienced ten months ago when he had to say goodbye to his young family.
"I got on the plane and there was a one-year-old child on it and she kept looking at me and the mother asked if I wanted to hold her. I did and it was so hard. I have missed them so much."
Mark went public with his appeal earlier this summer on Cork’s Red FM. He says he is hugely appreciative of the extensive efforts the Neil Prendeville Show team made on behalf.
He is also thankful for the assistance of the office of Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.
Mark met Marjo on a chatroom site a few years ago and they Skyped for hours on end over a six-month period. Marjo was in Hong Kong working as a nanny and the pair struck up a long-distance relationship.
They met in person and eventually married in 2017 with Mark taking a year leave of absence from work to go live in the Philippines.
He had to leave to return to work in Ireland when Erin was just two months old.
Mark went to the Citizens Advice Bureau who told him that because he was out of the country for a year he would need to build up six months in payslips and bank statements
to prove his residency in this country.
"I couldn't believe it. I went to a solicitor and he told me the same. I had to do all that before my wife could apply.
I got all the documents to prove we are a proper family. I got over 100 pages of paperwork which I had to send to Manila. The Irish consulate in Manila said they wanted two copies of everything. I did all of that.
A week later they sent all the paperwork to the closest Irish embassy in Singapore. Another week later they sent it to the visa officers in Dublin. That took another month and a half. He was then told it would take another five months.
Mark has missed out on all of his daughter's milestones to date. He cannot wait to spend quality time with her and Marjo.
"We missed our first Christmas as a family. Our first Easter, Erin's first words and steps. I am so happy they are coming. The worry of it all nearly killed me."