"Metapelet" is the Hebrew word for caregiver. The elderly population in Israel is rising exponentially, but with a shortage in Israeli caregivers the government has allowed workers from developing countries to come work. Over 30,000 Filipinos have answered this call and left their own children to care for strangers in order to provide for their children. Here Lilia rests her head after a usual taxing day working with her employer who has dementia. It has been years since she saw her family in the Philippines.
An employer rests her head in Bat Yam Park where she and her friends go every day to pass the time. Caring for elderly strangers is much like caring for their own young children, who live with them because they require 24/7 care.
Caregivers pay unreported broker fees up to $12,000 to independent agency recruiters through which they "purchase" work visas. With no protective bilateral trade agreements between the countries, agencies escape with overcharging caregivers.
Jaja uses her phone on the drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on a bus full of 60 other caregivers. In quiet moments, caregivers pull out photos of their families to re-live memories and hold their families close from thousands of miles away.
On a one-day tour of Jerusalem, caregivers stop at the Western Wall to leave prayers and wishes. Religion is a vibrant part of Filipino culture.
Photos of children back home in the Philippines hang up during another birthday party apart. Caregivers rarely skip celebrating each others’ birthdays, no matter how old they turn because it’s an excuse to be with the people who have become like adopted family.
A peeling Winnie-the-Pooh sticker is seen in an employer's home in Israel, one of the only reminders of childhood for her caregiver who has a young son at home whom he hasn't seen in years.
Cherry Dale celebrates her 31st birthday in a cramped apartment that she and other caregivers collectively rent for one night a week. "24/7 care is too much. I'm getting old," she says. "I want to live." Photos of other caregivers' family in the Philippines hang in background.
Laundry dries at Diane's place of work. Every day is the same. Cleaning the house. Watching television without sound. Bathing her employer. Cleaning toys. Sleeping, but waking up throughout the night because she shares a bed.
Caregivers gather to board a tour bus in Jerusalem. 24-hour tours are popular escapes for caregivers on their one day off to see other parts of the country. Caregivers become each others' family in this foreign land.
Caregiver Edna leans over to kiss employer, Shoshana. Despite the sacrifice of leaving their families behind, caregivers' treatment of their employers parallels how they would treat their own children.