The distance between Edgecomb, Maine and Hanoi, Vietnam is 7,933 miles. The long trip is further complicated by current travel restrictions due to the coronavirus. But a former Edgecomb resident is returning home from Vietnam Saturday with some help from her Midcoast friends and neighbors and Maine’s congressional delegation. Mandy Boucher has worked for Apollo English, a British corporation in Vietnam, for two years. Boucher teaches English as a second language. She’s enjoyed living in Southeast Asia, but the coronavirus convinced her it was time to come home. On March 21, she struggled to find a flight back to the U.S, and contacted her parents Deb and David Boucher of Edgecomb.
Deb Boucher contacted former state Rep. Stephanie Hawke, current state Rep. Holly Stover and U.S. Senators’ offices of Susan Collins and Angus King. She contacted Hawke first. Hawke made two calls, one to Boothbay resident Dawn Gilbert, who seemingly knows everybody in the Maine Republican Party; the second was to a former Maine legislator who works for the President of the United States. In Hawke’s legislative two terms, she served with Assistant Minority Leader Alex Willette, a Republican legislator from Mapleton in Aroostook County. Willette now serves as a special assistant to President Donald Trump. “I called Alex who helped Mandy with phone numbers to the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi,” Hawke said. “He contacted Mandy, and I called Dawn who got Collins’ office involved.”
Mandy Boucher is scheduled to leave Hanoi Thursday night, March 26 on a flight to Moscow. After a 20-hour layover, she flies March 27 to John F. Kennedy International Airport and Portland International Jetport. “On Saturday (March 21), we talked to Mandy. Her boyfriend returned to his home in Scotland and she wanted to come home. She was worried about us being older, especially with the coronavirus, and I’ve had some health issues in the past,” Deb Boucher said.
The Bouchers’ concern about their daughter’s welfare intensified when learning she had problems finding a flight. Deb Boucher made a series of phone calls eliciting help for her daughter. “Sunday morning I started to panic,” Deb Boucher said. “I called Stephanie Hawke, Holly Stover and a ‘friend of a friend of a friend’ who knows Angus King. Everyone has been good, but Stephanie has gone over and above.”
After Hawke’s initial conversations with Willette and Gilbert, she stayed in contact with the Bouchers. Later, a person Hawke referred to as “Mark in Collins’ office” contacted Mandy Boucher to help her find a flight. Deb Boucher appreciated everybody’s effort in assisting the family, but Hawke’s effort definitely stood out. “She’s just there. She’s been calling me. Holly (Stover) has been calling me and messaging, but Stephanie got on it as soon as I called her.”
Once Mandy Boucher returns, her parents plan on having her self-quarantine in a friend’s summer house. Deb Boucher has worried about her daughter living so far from home, but over time she “got used to it.” Once the coronavirus began threatening worldwide travel, that panic returned. “In this climate, I can’t even describe what I’m going through now. She is healthy and fingers crossed we’ll get her home Saturday, and I’ll be relieved when she’s on U.S. soil.”