A 57-year-old Filipina domestic worker was honored at the 2018 Singapore Patient Action Awards for her unreserved love and care for her employer’s daughter, who has Down syndrome and other chronic illnesses.

Cristina F. Talastas, who first arrived in Singapore in 1992, began her employment with Florence Lim in 1999.

It was a year that Talastas will never forget. In a short period, she took on the challenges of looking after her employer’s newborn daughter and her husband passed away, according to the Shin Min Daily News interview.

In March 1999, Talastas told her husband that she would end her career as a domestic worker in Singapore by December so she could return home to be with him and their three children.

Two months later, however, and five months into Lim’s pregnancy, the fetus was diagnosed with Down syndrome; the baby girl, Nadine, who was born on August 8, required major heart surgery when she was only one month old.

Only a few weeks later, Talastas’ husband died suddenly on September 25, prompting the Filipina to rush home to arrange his funeral. However she was so worried about little Nadine that she flew back to Singapore after only four days.

And so Talastas has been Nadine’s caregiver ever since she was born.

Before the age of five, Nadine had to be fed with a feeding tube, which Talastas had to insert every day. She prepared Nadine vegetables, rice and other simple food in mashed form for every meal.

In 2001, in order to be able to take better care of Nadine, Talastas completed a nine-month nursing aide course.

After nearly 20 years together, the pair now seem inseparable, and are able to communicate using their own unique sign language.

The Filipina says she prays that Nadine might one day become independent enough to look after herself.