A 49-year-old Filipino woman was chosen as one of the Foreign Domestic Worker of the Year awardees at the eighth Foreign Domestic Worker Day in Singapore on Sunday, after winning praises and gratitude from her employers for her 16 years as the caretaker of their boy, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Every morning, Marilou Tavas Lagleva wakes up early to help Anubhav, now 17, wash up and get dressed. She then cooks him breakfast and accompanies him on the bus to a special school, Lianhe Zaobao (Singapore) reported.

Anubhav, who is wheelchair-bound, was diagnosed as a child with an intellectual disability and cerebral palsy. Every night Lagleva carries  him up to bed.

Looking after Anubhav requires good health and a strong will, Lagleva recalled, adding that at first the task was really rough and very demanding when she took it on 16 years ago.

Her employer Ashish and his wife gave birth to another child two years after Anubhav’s birth. Another foreign domestic worker was hired to help with household chores so that Lagleva could fully focus on taking care of Anubhav.

Lagleva added that patience was important in looking after the boy, who has difficulty expressing himself.

Ashish and his wife have said they are very grateful for having Lagleva as their domestic worker, as she genuinely loves their son as if he were her own child.

He said that when he learned of the Foreign Domestic Worker of the Year award, he nominated her right away, as she was more than qualified in his opinion.

The hope is that everyone understands that foreign domestic helpers are not just people who cook meals and clean their employers’ homes. Their contribution is no less than that of anyone in the family, Ashish said.