Filipina expat
Filipina expat Grace Perfinian with her husband and son as they ushered in 2020. Little did she know then how the year would pan out. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Grace Perfinian, a 50-year-old Filipina teaching assistant, is desperate for help. Her husband Roberto, 52, died from a sudden cardiac arrest. Grace is now sitting on a huge hospital bill. She also needs to travel to the Philippines with her husband’s ashes so that her family can bid farewell to him. But she does not have the funds to clear his hospital dues or for the trip back home.

Grace said she has not received her full salary for the last few months. “I have only got a small allowance. Roberto lost his job in 2018. He had a valid UAE visa, which expired on June 29 – ironically, the day he died,” said Grace.

“He was struggling to find a job and with the pandemic, things got worse,” she said.

Grace said she makes traditional rice cakes and sells them to friends in the community. “In fact, Roberto was on his way to deliver a packet when he fainted on the street,” she recalled.

Nearly an hour after Roberto left home, Grace began to get worried when he did not return home. “He was to drop off the food packet and return home in ten minutes. I began to get worried and started calling him. Someone picked up the phone and said my husband was lying on the street. I left home immediately and started walking towards where I was told he was. I noticed he was disoriented and was not talking clearly. His eyes had rolled up and he was not looking at me. I called the ambulance and to my surprise, the paramedics arrived within two minutes. I felt so relieved.”

“At the hospital, the doctor said his main artery had ruptured. By next morning, he had two cardiac arrests. He was internally bleeding all the way to the intestine.”

Grace said the day her husband died was also her birthday. 

“I will never celebrate my birthday again. Even in his last breath, my husband was by my side, trying to earn some extra money for our family. My life will never be the same now.”

Grace said the total hospital bill now stands a little more than Dh20,000.

“I also need to fly home with my son to take my husband’s ashes. His mother had not seen him for ten years, she needs to bid him a final farewell,” she said, pleading for support.