The sister of a 44-year-old woman who collapsed and died last month is appealing to the wider Dublin community to help send the late Rowena Toledo home. Rowena collapsed on August 25 last and later died at St James Hospital following a cardiac arrest.
A native of the Philippines, the late Rowena came to Ireland in 2007,to join her sister Raquel and brother-in-law Emer Toletino who had moved here the year before. For the sisters, Ireland offered a better life, and better opportunities for the next generation.
The late Rowena accompanied her nephew Raemer and niece Camille (Raquel’s children) to Ireland and the family initially settled for a time in Rathgar before moving to Harold’s Cross.
Rowena quickly secured work as a live-in housekeeper at the Egyptian Embassy in Ballsbridge, where she lived and worked for 13 years.
Rowena’s daughter Elsie remained with her grandmother in the Philippines and for Rowena, it was all about providing for Elsie and for the extended family at home, where opportunities are few.
“Rowena came here to provide for a better life for Elsie, and also for the extended family in the Philippines,” Raquel told the Dublin Gazette. “She provided for her sister, brother and all the extended family over there.
“She sent money home every month; she did not treat herself to luxuries – I often encouraged her to treat herself but no, she would say, ‘I’d rather send it back home so they can treat themselves’. That was Rowena, so generous, so kind, she was selfless.”
“She was the type of person who could light up a room just by walking in, she was a ray of sunshine.
On Wednesday, August 25, Rowena experienced chest pains and complained her head was sore.
“An ambulance was called and Rowena was taken to St James Hospital,” said Raquel. “She had emergency surgery following cardiac arrest but sadly, after a time on life support, it was clear that Rowena had died. She was only 44 years old.
“I am heartbroken; she was my only sister here but also my best friend.”
Raquel has set up a GoFundMe campaign to get Rowena home and have a celebratory funeral and burial.
“We would like to bring her home as her only daughter Elsie is in the Philippines and has not seen her mother in three years. We want our family to see her and to say goodbye one last time, and they in turn want to celebrate her life and her generosity.”
Raquel estimates it will cost in excess of €6,000 to take Rowena’s remains home. Any excess monies raised will go towards Elsie’s future.
“I would like to thank members of the embassy, our Irish friends and family here, along with members of the Filipino community in Ireland for their support and generosity to date.
“We are touched by your kindness and just ask if anyone would like to donate to our GoFundMe campaign, we’d be most appreciative.
“The family in the Philippines really want to give her a good funeral because she has provided for them for so long.”
The late, big-hearted Rowena Toleda, rest in peace, amen.