In a gripping testament to human courage and the enduring bond between caregiver and ward, 31-year-old Camille Jesalva from the Philippines showcased the spirit of unity that transcends borders, standing strong against adversity in the face of immense danger.
Jesalva, a caregiver in a kibbutz near the Gaza border, enjoyed simpler times just a day before the harrowing Oct. 7 attacks. The kibbutz had been celebrating its 77th founding anniversary, a moment of happiness where Jesalva and her 95-year-old employer, Nitza Hefetz, reminisced about cherished memories. Little did they know that within hours, their peaceful sanctuary would be under siege.
That fateful morning, as terror loomed over southern Israel, the two found themselves trapped in a safe room. With rockets alerting them of incoming threats and the real possibility of infiltration, they huddled together in hopes of staying unnoticed.
But as terror took physical form with the invaders searching their homes, Jesalva had the quick wit to engage one of the attackers. Without showing a hint of fear, she addressed him, managed to bribe him with her savings meant for a trip back home, and calmly ushered him out. In the process, she not only saved herself but also protected Hefetz, demonstrating an incredible blend of courage and compassion.
This act of valor wasn’t just a one-off incident. Jesalva’s prior decision to postpone her vacation, her intuition about impending danger, and her calming presence throughout the ordeal underline the remarkable character she embodies. She not only serves as a beacon of hope in troubled times but also showcases the unity and bond that can form between people of different backgrounds, all under the Israeli sky.
Later, when the Israel Defense Forces arrived to rescue them, the two women got a chance to see the full extent of the tragedy that unfolded that day. While they were among the fortunate ones, the haunting reality wasn’t lost on them.
Yet, as they relocated to the Nofim Jerusalem assisted living facility, they found a renewed sense of life and gratitude. Hefetz’s family could not be prouder of Jesalva’s bravery, seeing in her not just a caregiver, but a hero.