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Filipino maid watched her husband pass away over video call

SINGAPORE - As her maid watched her husband's life slowly slip away, Ms Tara Dhar Hasnain sat by her side, trying her best to comfort her.

Ms Tara, 71, sat with Ms Gelerina Hernandez, 49, in her Ulu Pandan condominium for about fours hours on that fateful afternoon on Oct 6 last year, looking on via Messenger video call as the younger woman's 53-year-old husband lay dying on his hospital bed in San Fernando, Philippines, stricken with throat cancer and unable to speak.

Knowing the end was near, Ms Hernandez, who could not be at his bedside due to travel difficulties because of the Covid-19 pandemic, told her husband not to worry about their three children and that she would take care of them.

Ms Tara told The Straits Times: "We saw him take his last breath and then his eyes closed. It was very, very hard to watch."

Ms Hernandez's husband died a day before his 54th birthday and she has yet to return home since the death.

"It was very difficult for me to accept that he was gone, but it was harder to deal with it while being far from my family, my children," said the Filipina, who last returned home in November 2019 for about four weeks to take care of him.

After the death, Ms Tara and her husband set out to help their distraught maid return home for the funeral and to be there for her children. But they found out she would have to quarantine in Manila for 14 days before returning to her home town, which meant she would miss the funeral.

Ms Tara also learnt from the Ministry of Manpower that the employer would have to bear the cost of a migrant worker's stint serving stay-home notice at a hotel and any treatment, should she be infected when she returned to Singapore. After a discussion, both parties agreed the best decision was for Ms Hernandez to stay.

"We talked to her and she said there was no use in going back, because she would be stuck in Manila," said Ms Tara.

Being able to come back to her job here was also at the forefront of Ms Hernandez's mind.

She said: "I was worried if I went home I would not be able to come back because of the Covid situation, and I need to work here to support my kids, for their future and education."
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