Filipina caregiver in Israel asked for son’s photo amid killings

Philippine Tribune
Philippine Tribune

By SUNDY LOCUS, GMA Integrated News

Camille Jesalva gave her savings to a member of Hamas so that she and the 95-year-old in her care in Nirim would be spared from the killings on October 7.

However, the 31-year-old Filipina caregiver said it was her seven-year-old son back in the Philippines who pushed her to survive amid the attack.

Camille said she messaged her mother to ask for a picture of her child as she thought she would be killed. She wanted his face to be the last image she would see.

“Hiningi ko po ‘yung picture ng anak ko. ‘Mama, patingin na po ‘yung picture ng anak ko kasi alam ko na di ako mabubuhay’. Alam ko na talaga. Gusto ko siya ‘yung huli kong makikita,” Jesalva tearfully said in a Zoom presser.

(I was sure I wouldn’t survive so I asked my mother for a picture of my child. I want him to be the last person I’ll see before I die.)

“Ayaw ko pa po mamatay. Kawawa ‘yung anak ko,” she added.

(I didn’t want to die. I feel sorry for my child.)

Camille, a caregiver in a kibbutz in Nirim, is among the survivors of the bloody attack that took the lives of more than 1,000 individuals. She recently made headlines after she gave away her measly savings to a Hamas militant to save herself and her 95-year-old employer Nitza Hefetz.

A single mother, Jesalva braved working overseas to support her family and her son. She started working in Israel in July 2019 and was first employed by an elderly couple for six months.

Following their deaths, the Filipina migrant worker said she prayed to work for someone who would treat her well. It was Nitza.

“Siya yung taong hiniling ko sa Diyos,” said Jesalva, who has nothing but praise for her nonagenarian employer and her family.

(I prayed for an employer like her.)

She admitted their relationship was rough at first but after gaining Hefetz’s trust, it became smooth sailing. Jesalva described her as “supportive” and credited the “strong woman” with teaching her many lessons, be it personally or professionally.

“Kung sinuman ako ngayon, siya ‘yun gumawa sakin nito,” she said.

(I am who I am because of her.)

Camille and Nitza are currently staying in Jerusalem, where they are starting anew.

By November, the Filipina is planning to go home to the Philippines to celebrate Christmas and her birthday with her son.

Still, she will return to Israel.

“Natatakot ako kasi ayaw ko na mawalan ng mama ang anak ko pero bakit iiwan ko ‘yung tao na pinangakuan ko na di ko siya iiwan?” she said.

(I am scared because I don’t want my son to lose his mother but why would I leave the person I promised I wouldn’t leave?)

“Hindi ko kaya na iwan siya,” she added.

(I cannot leave her.)

For its part, the Philippine Embassy in Israel promised Jesalva they would cover her repatriation flights to and from Tel Aviv.

“Anak, uuwi na ko wag ka na mag-alala. Okay na si mommy. Hinding-hindi mamatay para sayo. Gagawin ko lahat. Ibibigay ko lahat, mabuhay lang tayo,” said Jesalva.

(My son, I am going home, so stop worrying about me. I am okay. I will not die. I will do anything to keep us both alive.) —NB, GMA Integrated News

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