Sisters Anna (later Orenstein) and Fella (later Isboutsky) Schmidt, young women in their early twenties, were recruited to work as counsellors at the children's home by Juliette Vidal and Marinette Guy, who were active in the Underground's rescue endeavors in France.
In 1940, after the Germans occupied Belgium, Anna and Fella fled with their family to the Montpellier area of France. Some two years later, their seventeen-year-old brother, Moshe was caught in a raid on an agricultural school and sent with a group of boys his age to Germany. In late 1942, after the Germans had taken control of "Free France", the family members went underground and lived under assumed identities.
Initially, the sisters, who were Scout leaders, were recruited to work in a convent where Jewish children were being hidden, and about one year later, they were asked to move to Chamonix and work as counsellors at the children's home there. This home started out as a Scout summer camp, and then became a fully-fledged children's home, operating under the guise of a temporary holiday retreat for children living in dangerous areas. Five non-Jewish children living there lent authenticity to this cover story. The Jewish children were given French names to conceal their identity. The children's home was run like a Scout camp – in the summer, the children lived in chalets, and in the winter they moved into a hotel.
Fella was the girls' counsellor, and Anna worked as assistant to the kindergarten teacher, Madeleine. Juliette made sure that the children preserved their religious traditions. Fella relates:
"Juliette made us pray "Shema Yisrael" in French every morning with the children… Of all people, she, a Catholic, was the one who insisted that we say it every morning… I would run the Sabbath celebrations (Oneg Shabbat) with the Jewish children. During the week, all the Oneg Shabbat material was kept in the cellar amongst the coal, and we would only bring it out on Friday. It was Juliette who brought us all the material – Lecha Dodi, Lechu Neranena… we were only allowed to talk about Judaism on Friday night. I don't know how wise that was… but she insisted that not one child should consider Christianity, that we should preserve their Jewish identity… On Passover, we decided to hold a Seder… I made Matzot and all the things that were needed, and Juliette brought us a Haggadah..."
In addition to her work as counsellor, Fella also distributed the forged ration cards made at the children's home to other resistance activists.
The day after the liberation of Paris on 27 August 1944, Maquis fighters liberated Chamonix. Anna and Fella started working for the OSE, and assisted with the return of children who had been smuggled into Switzerland during the war.
In the summer of 1945, the Schmidt family was reunited. Moshe, who had survived the Buchenwald camp, reached France, and the whole family returned to Belgium. On their return, Fella assisted with the retrieval of children who had been hidden in convents and Christian homes, this time under the auspices of the Joint Distribution Committee and Bachad (Union of Religious Pioneers).
In July 1947, Fella started to work for the Aliyah Bet. She married David Isboutsky, and in December 1947 the couple immigrated to Eretz Israel.
In 1969, Juliette Vidal and Marinette Guy were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.