Christmas Fund: Reunited after eight years, family hit with medical crisis

“Even though we have a sickness in the family, this is our first Christmas together in eight years,” Althea said. “So I’m so happy and thankful.”

“He needs to do manual kidney dialysis four times a day,” Althea said. He has an upcoming appointment where doctors will determine if he’s eligible for a dialysis machine, which would reduce it to one a day. In the long term, they’re hoping he can eventually have a transplant.

“Even though we have a sickness in the family, this is our first Christmas together in eight years,” Althea said. “So I’m so happy and thankful.”

This year, Althea will be one of the thousands of Montrealers in need to receive a $125 cheque from the Montreal Gazette Christmas Fund. The fund helps make the holidays a little easier for those in tough situations.


This article is representative of the people your donations are helping. Because of resource limitations and privacy restrictions, the Montreal Gazette cannot accept non-monetary contributions. Donations to the Christmas Fund this year can be made exclusively online at

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In the search for work and stability, Althea had been separated from her husband and four children for nearly eight years.

Her journey began when she moved from her native Philippines to Hong Kong for employment in 2012. After two years, she wound up in Canada, where she worked as a nanny and lived with her aunt in the West Island. All that time, she was only able to visit her family once.

“To not see them for so many years, it was so lonely,” she said. “But I had no choice — I had to do it.”

In March, she was finally reunited with her family. With the pandemic arriving a week later, this moment ended up being a little bittersweet, although it gave the kids a chance to spend some time at home with their mother in their new apartment while their father worked.

Then in the summer, her husband started to feel ill. He experienced shortness of breath and constant fatigue. They were still waiting for his medicare card to arrive, so out of caution they didn’t immediately go to the hospital. When they finally did, the diagnosis was kidney failure. He only had six per cent functionality of his kidney left.

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