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Down but not out: Infected Pinay regains hope after getting help from kababayans

30 January 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

'Liza' signs up with new employer, a day after testing negative for Covid-19

Many a migrant’s worst nightmare came true for 33-year-old Liza (not her real name) on Jan. 11, when she tested positive for Covid-19 while her visa status was in limbo.

Worse, after two weeks of stay at the community treatment facility at AsiaWorld-Expo, Liza was dealt another blow: her prospective employer backed out, and her employment agency hastily returned her passport, not wanting to have anything more to do with her.

Then, as she was checking out at the AWE facility, she got another shock. As she was already on visitor’s visa, she was billed a whopping $40,800 for her two-week stay there.

Liza said that since she had no symptoms, except for a slight sore throat, she got no treatment at the facility, but was only tested repeatedly until she showed two successive negative results. In all, she said she had two blood tests and four coronavirus tests before she was released.


In her desperation, Liza sent an appeal for help via a private message to Rain Tuando, administrator of Domestic Workers Corner, who immediately shared it in one of her group’s Facebook accounts.

Maam, what should I do po? Totoo po pala ang discrimination, ang sakit. Gustuhin ko man pong umuwi ng Pinas wala akong pera,” said Liza. (Discrimination is real, it hurts. Even if I want to go home, I can’t because I don’t have money).


Her appeal was immediately met with messages of hope and encouragement from her fellow helpers. Tuando took a step further and linked Liza up with people who could offer help.

Through a go-between, Liza was assured by the Consulate of financial help from the Dole-Akap cash grants for overseas Filipino workers whose jobs had been adversely affected by the coronavirus. She was also told she could get the AWE bill waived with help from the social welfare department.

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Others offered to look into how Liza could avail of the $5,000 financial help for Covid 19 patients that the Hong Kong government announced just a few months back.

But the biggest support so far came from the Mission for Migrant Workers, which gave Liza money to help pay for her own lodging space, so she need not worry about hiding her recent health problem from other people.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

At that time, Liza was staying temporarily in a shared room in Tsim Sha Tsui, and was so afraid of facing more discrimination that she did not dare share her brush with the coronavirus with the other people there.

Yet more good news came the following day, when Immigration extended Liza’s visa for another week so she could look for a new employer and process a new work contract here.

Pindutin para sa latest Winners!

Liza was overjoyed as she had technically overstayed her visa since Jan 22. She said she had to explain to an officer that she couldn’t apply for an visa extension, as she was at AWE then, being treated for Covid-19.

The next hurdle was getting swabbed again so she could present a negative test result to a recruiter as a first step towards getting a new employer.

Liza's bleak mood is shown by this only picture she took from her isolation room at AWE 

At first, Liza balked at having to revisit her worst nightmare, but her new positive outlook got her back on track soon enough.

Pa swab test na po ako bukas. Kinabahan lang po ako noong una kasi bumabalik ang experience ko dati…pero I need to face it now,” she said in a message to a friend. (I will go for a swab test tomorrow. I just got nervous at first because my previous experience (with the virus) was all coming back…but I need to face it now).

But luck was back on her side. After testing negative for the virus for the third time, she was immediately linked up by an employment agency in Central with a new employer, who signed her up right away.

Liza’s brush with the deadly virus was not unique. A recent report to the Legislative Council by Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong showed more than 400 foreign domestic workers had been infected, with half of these locally acquired.

However, her having been released more than a month early from her two-year contract made things more difficult for her.

Getting a new employer was a breeze, as Liza was deemed to have completed her previous work contract, even if the finish date indicated there was Jan. 15. The problem was, like with many migrant workers in her situation, she could not move in with her new employer in Tsim Sha Tsui until her new employment visa was released.

Not having any place to stay while waiting to move in with her prospective employer, Liza was forced to scour around for temporary lodgings. She ended up sharing a dingy room on Reclamation Street in Jordan with another Filipina domestic worker who was working fulltime and only spent the night there.

Her flatmate was lucky to have avoided being infected. So far, after several mandatory testing and a weekend lockdown, hundreds of cases have already been detected in Jordan and other parts of the Yau Tsim Mong district.

On Jan 11 alone, when Liza was led to isolation at AWE, there were seven others from the same housing block on Reclamation Street who tested positive for the virus. The infections continue to mount to this day.

Aiza shows her hefty bill from AWE that gave her more worries

Had times been different, Liza said she would have flown home for a quick reunion with her husband and two young kids in Camarines Norte when her first two-year contract ended. But with the pandemic wreaking havoc on all travel and vacation plans, she was left with no choice but to stay put.

Armed with her newfound faith and a realization that many people are willing to help, Liza is looking towards the future with renewed hope.

Positive thoughts lang po talaga ang kailangan ko kasi nandyan si God na tutulong sa akin sa pamamagitan ng mga mabubuting tao para tulungan ako…Hindi naman po ako nawawalan ng pag-asa. Siguro ito din ang way niya para lalong lumakas ang faith ko sa kanya,” said Liza. (Positive thoughts are all I need because I know God is there to help me through all the good people around me. I haven’t lost hope. This must be His way to help strengthen my faith in Him).

Liza’s worst nightmare is clearly over.


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