Donation boxes have been placed at eight Filipino-run stores along Rua da Alfandega, as well as in Macau’s three remittance centers, to request financial aid for migrant workers in dire straits.
A few of the new boxes are for one such worker who recently incurred costly hospital bills for the treatment of his acute illness.
The Filipino male, who used to work at a veterinary center, underwent surgery in December at the Conde de São Januário Hospital, where he was confined for two weeks after suffering from extreme abdominal pain.
After two weeks, he was re-admitted with an infection that had arisen from his operation, which led to a coma.
According to his sister Editha Laderas, who works as a domestic helper, the family has resorted to requesting funds from the community to pay the medical bills. The hospital has refused to provide an estimated figure for the bills until the worker has been discharged.
Several compatriots from different Filipino church groups have visited the hospital, with Laderas stressing that such visits had provided emotional support at a time of suffering.
“He was admitted on January 21 and after a week, we decided to place donation boxes in Filipino stores because we do not know where else we can get the amount to pay the pending hospital bills,” she told the Times.
“When he was operated on in December, we paid MOP32,000. We [pawned] a piece of lot that we have in the Philippines and two or three livestock that we have, just to help pay the hospital fee,” she said.
Her brother holds a special visa which requires letters from the hospital, as his blue card was not renewed at the beginning of this month.
When asked whether the worker’s former employer had supported them financially, Laderas said that they had only received MOP1,000.
She claimed that her brother had to carry heavy equipment when he returned to work after his first surgery, leading to the infection.
“We cannot do anything but face the reality,” Laderas noted, adding that they are already expecting significant expenses for the CT scans, medicine and hospital room.
However, she is relieved that the doctors have seen significant improvement in his mobility compared to a few weeks ago.
Laderas’ brother will undergo a CT scan on Monday to determine the progress of his recovery.
“We cannot do anything anymore. There’s nothing left to be sold back home so we now rely on our own salaries and donations from our compatriots,” Laderas said.
She said the Philippine Consulate General in Macau has advised that it can only help in the event of medical repatriation.
Laderas is trying to remain positive and is focusing on the fact that hospital bills can be paid in installments.
Some of the other donation boxes are placed on behalf of ill or deceased migrant workers who have no immediate families or relatives in the region.
These boxes will only be collected once the worker is due for repatriation to the Philippines.
“This is of big help to our compatriots. We allow these donation boxes to be placed here, and they get them after relevant papers have been processed,” said a store owner who has allowed numerous donation boxes to be placed in his store.
Usually, these boxes feature a letter from the hospital, the Philippine consulate or a copy of the worker’s passport to explain the situation.