The Everyday Life of Filipinos in Israel
Filipinos rent one-room apartments near the Tahana Merkazit which they share with 10 to 20 other people. It sounds very crowded, but it’s only for one night a week or even less, the rest of the time they live with their clients.
For a foreign caregiver in Israel, relationships and family life aren’t easy. If the authorities learn of a romantic relationship between two foreign workers, it requires one of them to leave Israel. In some cases, even the employers are pressured by the authorities to provide information about caregivers’ relationships.
P.S. Liezl Diamante Sieton
“I have degree in Business Management. But right after I graduated I moved to work as a metapelet [Hebrew word for ‘caregiver’] in Tel Aviv. I was 21, it was my first time away from my family, and I was crying every night in the beginning. But step by step I found some friends and now I like it here.
My first safta (grandmother or elderly lady in Hebrew) had a tracheostomy and a hole in her stomach. So taking care of her was very hard. I worked with her for four years and then she passed away. We all prepare ourselves for the day that a person we spend all our time with will die one day. But still we get attached to them. When my first safta died, I think I cried more then her child.
Then 7 years ago, I found my second job which I still have now. The old lady I’m taking care of has a Alzheimer’s and Dementia; she’s helpless and very dependent on me. Her daughter wouldn’t let me go on vacation because the safta is very upset when I’m not near her. I work 24/7, but from time to time I find someone to substitute for me for few hours in the evening when she is sleeping. I haven’t been on vacation in 5 years and my last day off was last year.
Very often the safta is lamenting all day and if I don’t find a way to calm myself down I go crazy. So I just put on my earphones and listen to some music or go downstairs to throw away the garbage and take a deep breath or call a friend to talk a little bit about something different.
Recently I saw at the Tahana Merkazit an announcement attached to a wall. People were looking for a caregiver and they listed some position requirements. In the end it said: 'But not on the phone all the time'. The truth is that sometimes we are too stressed in our work. The old people are getting very ‘nudnik’ sometimes and it’s easy to run out of patience. So calling each other helps us release the stress.
Caregiving is the only job we can get here. Israelis are paying us because we are patient. Most of them don’t have what it takes to take care for their own mom and dad. It’s very hard work both physically and mentally. Back in The Philippines, I have my parents, my two brothers and a sister. My life now is a sacrifice for the family that I support. So I hope to stay here as long as possible.”
Text Asya Chachko
Photo Sasha Zacks