By Mathilde Notebook
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On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. A week and a half later was born the association Ukraine aid to displaced families (AUAFD) with the first arrivals of refugees in Grand Bourgtheroulde.
Six months of action
Six months later, when a check for €5,000 was presented by the Fondation du Grand Orient de France to AAUFD on Thursday 15 September, Ukrainians, the associations that help them and municipalities that host them are taking stock of this exceptional situation, which is generating an equally exceptional mobilization.
31 refugees supported
Since its creation last March, AUAFD has supported eight families, i.e. 31 people in the municipalities of Grand Bourgtheroulde, Rougemontiers, Berville-en-Roumois and Bec-Hellouin. In Grand Bourgtheroulde, the association was created when a few refugees had just arrived in the town, staying with a relative of Ukrainian origin. “Aid came naturally,” recalls the mayor, Vincent Martin. The Monday after their arrival, the children were at school, satchel on their backs. »
Estera works at the Cornucopia
The association, made up of several members of the municipal council and residents sensitive to the Ukrainian cause, worked with the surrounding municipalities to find housing for families. In Grand Bourgtheroulde, five families have been accommodated, either with residents or in accommodation provided by the municipality. Today, three families have left: two have moved to the south of France and the other has returned to Ukraine.
Estera Oloier, 23, and Olimpia Lupu, 35, two sisters, live in Grand Bourgtheroulde with Olimpia’s three children, educated in Hector-Malot. Very quickly, the two women integrated into the town, in particular by working. Since the beginning of May, Estera has been working in the kitchens of the Corne d’Abondance restaurant. “It went to 32 hours a week,” says a volunteer from the association. Olimpia was hired by the Roumois Seine community of municipalities to clean private homes. “They have put in place a system of pictograms so that she knows which rooms to clean. »
Until this summer, all the refugees from Grand Bourgtheroulde were supported by Secours Catholique for learning French, at the rate of three sessions per week of around two hours. The children, five in total, learned French every Monday morning. “We are going to put French lessons back in place, it is a priority”, explains Manuela Das Neves, of AUAFD.
It is difficult for my children to follow in school.
Because if the integration is remarkable in such a short time, learning the language is long and tedious. “It’s difficult for my children to keep up with school,” explains Olimpia, whose five-year-old had never been to school before arriving in France.
“We feel safe here”
The team of volunteers from Secours Catholique de Rougemontiers is already on the alert for French lessons. Olesia Telizhenko’s children are taken care of every day after school, for tutoring. Housed in a house belonging to the commune of Rougemontiers, the mother and her children are very grateful. “Ukraine has discovered France and we are very touched by your empathy, by the greatness of your heart. We feel safe here”she expressed, thanking the Foundation of the Grand Orient of France for its donation.
All Ukrainians who arrived in the territory have, at least temporarily, managed to find a job. “We used our network, it was very important for their integration”, explains the association. Today, housing is still lent by the municipalities which will think, little by little, to establish a rent. The charges are paid by the association. For food and clothing, families can count on local associations, such as Secours Catholique and Secours Populaire. The AAUFD, which is also responsible for administrative and extracurricular support, has managed to get the support of 80 volunteers, and set up several actions to raise funds.
It is a pride for the municipality to be able to help them.
In Rougemontiers as in Grand Bourgtheroulde, the mayors salute the great “capacity for integration” of these families. “There is mutual aid in the neighborhood, the children of Olesia are well at school”, explains Philippe Robillot, mayor of Rougemontiers. “It is a source of pride for the municipality to be able to help these families,” adds Vincent Martin.
Returning to Ukraine: too dangerous
For the families met this Thursday evening, the future is still uncertain. “Of course, we are thinking of returning, but it is still too dangerous,” explains Olesia, whose military husband remained in the country and was injured. The youngest, Estera and Oksana, 26, who also lives in Rougemontiers, do not plan to return for the moment and feel “good here”.
The arrival of a new family, a couple whose man can no longer fight, is “imminent” in Grand Bourgtheroulde, says the association, which promises to stay alongside the refugees “as long as necessary”.
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