A crowdfunding campaign for a Filipino domestic worker fired over a diagnosis of advanced cervical cancer surpassed its goal of HK$650,000 over the weekend, with the woman’s sister saying the outpouring of support had given her sister new hope.
Baby Jane Allas, 38, was unceremoniously sacked by her employers less than a month after receiving the news she had late-stage cancer. In their letter terminating her contract, the employer left no room for doubt as to the cause, stating: “Reason for termination (if any): Diagnosed with cervical cancer.”
Allas has since moved in with her sister’s employer, Jessica Cutrera, who started the GoGetFunding page on her behalf, setting a goal of HK$650,000 to cover medical expenses, and to support Allas’ children in the Philippines while she seeks treatment and pursues complaints against her ex-employer.
As of this evening, the page had blown past that goal, attracting almost HK$786,000 (about US$100,000).
Baby Jane’s sister, Mary Anne Allas, told Coconuts HK that the show of support had rendered her sister “speechless.”
“Last night I showed her and she was very overwhelmed,” Mary Anne said. “She was very thankful.”
Today was also Baby Jane’s first day of chemotherapy and radiation, which left her “so tired,” Mary Anne said. But the enormous support for her cause has renewed her will to fight the disease.
“The first day she came here, she was crying,” Mary Anne said. “She said there was no hope. She just wanted to go home and see her kids…[to] go home and die there.”
“Then when this fundraising came, it gave her strength and hope,” she continued. “The first day she came here, she looked very pale. Now she looks different. You can see the hope in her face.”
In an interview with Coconuts HK, Cutrera also pointed to the positive psychological effect of the donations, in addition to their obvious financial benefit.
“She’s been in an abusive employment situation for quite some time. We tried to convince her to quit back in the fall…but she really felt like she couldn’t manage the loss of income,” Cutrera said. “Then to have that further deteriorate and be terminated after she got ill was really disheartening. It was good for her to see that other people don’t feel like this is how you should treat your helper.”
“We’re incredibly grateful for that.”
Baby Jane has filed two complaints against her former employers, one accusing them of workplace abuses, and another alleging her firing amounted to unfair discrimination. On Wednesday, she is set to meet with her ex-employers at the Labour Department.
Cutrera said that a lawyer had agreed to take on Baby Jane’s case pro bono, and was pursuing it “very seriously.”
She also noted that many of the donors to Baby Jane’s cause had been Filipino domestic workers themselves.
“The Filipino community was incredibly supportive of her situation, and that’s been fantastic,” she said.
Mary Anne added that her sister’s message to other domestic workers was “to take care of yourself before it’s too late.”
“The most important thing is your health,” she said. “And those workers, they need to know their rights and stand up for them.”