behind the beautiful stories, the galaxies from the French who welcome Ukrainians

Emmanuelle ended up writing “diabetes + 1 “type on Google and her eyes got big on screen. “Oh God !” exclaimed Toulousaine, rather accustomed to testing the water in commercial properties than flipping through medical books. Here she grabs her phone, ready to move heaven and earth so that the youngest of the three Ukrainians she houses is taken care of as soon as possible. She contacts a doctor friend who puts her on the trail of an endocrinologist who yells at her on the phone that she needs “definitely find a solution within two or three days”, What is it “a matter of life or death” … but it is there “incompatibility between Ukrainian material and French material”. We’re in the middle of March and Emmanuelle was thinking “just to help by reaching out to a family in need”, is at “dealing with a life-threatening emergency” between two business meetings.


Finally, everything is back to normal. A solution and doses of insulin have been found, and Sophie, 16, can continue her diabetes treatment 2,940 km from home, as if nothing had happened. Emmanuelle, herself a mother, breathes a sigh of relief by recounting this episode, and while Larissa and her daughters, Anastasiia and Sophie, returned to the country: “How stressful! It was nonsense to me, I did not know anything about it. Among us, I felt quite helpless in the situation, I did not control everything. “

Sophie, Anastasiia and their mother Larissa on April 8, 2022 in their apartment in Toulouse (Haute-Garonne).  (RAPHAEL GODET / FRANCEINFO)

It’s a rather divided observation: after 76 days of war, some French people who have helped little, much, enormously, the 70,000 Ukrainian refugees in our country are starting to get tired. Among these anonymous told us their story, none, absolutely none do not regret the time and energy spent. “Simply, they warn we have to admit that we have to manage things that are outside of us. ” Emmanuelle, for example, also had to find an appointment with Larissa’s optician, the mother, who forgot her corrective glasses while fleeing Kiev, but who apparently cannot be found in the health insurance archives. Also her husband Arnaud “separated” so that the mother and her two daughters benefit from itliability insurance “if anything should happen to them” in the apartment in the center of Toulouse, which the couple graciously entrusted to them.

“It works for everything”sums up Laure, a 59-year-old Parisian who has set his work “i pause swithin a week, “the time to accompany a Ukrainian family who landed in Paris with a small shopping basket and two backpacks”. We had to dress them, find a cell phone, fill the fridge … “In short, to make sure everything is in order, that everyone is well clarified, that they are not missing anything. In the first few days, I must have made a hundred phone calls.”

“It’s not old friends you see again. It’s people fleeing the war.”

Isabelle, 58, did not think long when an acquaintance called her to entrust her with a mission: “Do not want to support a Ukrainian family?” “I said yes right away. My first question was: how can I help?” Result: in a month and a half I became a banker, travel agent, psychologist … “

The question of money, no matter how delicate, always comes up very quickly. While all Ukrainian refugees are entitled to the asylum application service, ADA, which amounts to 6.80 euros per day for a single person and 10.20 euros for a couple, French carers are not entitled to any. expenses. Laure lets go in an embarrassed whisper as she has already usedstar “several hundred euros”. And Isabella, “far from being a millionaire”, “something like 2,000 euros”, between Airbnb stays (600 euros), shopping (100 euros) or train and bus tickets (400 euros) … “Faced with the emotions, I did not speak. We laughed at it, but I could hardly use my bank card. I was actually in the red.”

“We organized pots, we asked our relatives if they would attend.”

Lucie also begins to scrutinize her accounts. Since March, it has been lending her 70 m2 T3, which she usually rents for 1,200 euros a month to Alexandre, Arthur, Alexandra and Viktoria, two Ukrainian couples and their children Arina at 6 years and Léon at 9 months. But now, seven weeks later, “I face a dilemma: on the one hand, I would like to be able to reclaim the home to re-rent it for the summer. On the other hand, it is impossible for me to put them out.” At Toulouse City Hall, he was made to understand that there was not really a solution. Finally yes, there is one: getting his guests to pay rent. “Excluded”she answered. “Do you see me asking for money from people who have lost everything? If I borrowed this apartment for the base, it was selfless.”

Nevertheless, neither Emmanuelle, Lucie, Laure nor Isabelle roll in gold. So why not, for example, imitate Italy, which pays between 25 and 30 euros a day to each host, as explained The Republic ? Asked by franceinfo, Marlène Schiappa’s entourage, the Minister Delegate in charge of citizenship, did not want to answer us. It is therefore impossible to say whether such a device is possible in the short or medium term.

Laura thinks she has the explanation: “It’s very simple: we play the Good Samaritan, but afterwards it’s up to you. I have the impression that the State is unloading on individuals and associations who are doing a fantastic job. I am thinking in particular of the Red Cross. She says “blame” for example, in the prefecture of Calvados. “They offered to house several Ukrainian families in a disused barracks near Caen, including the one I followed as best I could. Very good! Except that the place was not up to a dignified welcome., The toilets were dirty and clogged”, she assures. Therefore March 18, two hours after the prefect’s tweet who welcomed the initiative, Laure, who works in fair mode, did not hesitate to say what she thought about it : Dear Mr. Prefect, thank you for your welcome, but … these refugees tonight have clogged toilets, no wi-fi to [avoir des] news from relatives in Ukraine, etc. Thank you for your attention to improving their reception. ”

Contacted by franceinfo, the prefecture of Calvados promises that the families will be accommodated on the site of Bretteville-sur-Odon “in renovated rooms with individual toilets and showers and the essential comfort so that this temporary shelter takes place under the best conditions. A person was hit by this problem with clogged toilets when the appliance was put in place. L The association intervened without delay to respond to these genes. ” Laura thinks aloud: “And if I had not made this tweet, what would have happened then? How many people elsewhere in France are still waiting for a response at the moment?”

A Red Cross volunteer helps Ukrainian refugees on March 10, 2022 at the Gare de l'Est in Paris.  (XOSE BOUZAS / HANS LUCAS / AFP)

In fact, it is not always easy to find a conversation partner at City Hall, in the prefecture or in the ward council … “And when you have someone, it’s rarely the right one, ironically one of the witnesses. Last week, City Hall told me to check with the prefecture, and the prefecture asked me to check with City Hall. It’s Kafkaesque. “

Isabelle, for example, had to wait three weeks for the Ukrainian embassy in France to answer her about a family who wanted to return to their country.. “I wrote to the embassy on March 31, I got an answer on April 24. I was waiting for instructions, the beginning of an answer, I did not get much.” “Me and the other people who helped this family, we found ourselves in a strange situation. On the one hand, who are we to assess the danger or not by returning to Kiev? And on the other hand, if we do not tell them what we think, who will? And sis something happening to them on the way back? What can we do ? seize them? she jokes. It is disproportionate as a responsibility. “” It must not interfere too much with privacy, but it does interfere, ends up admitting Laura. You have to find the right support position, help without making all the decisions for them. “

“You almost find yourself adopting a family. I had not measured the organizational impact properly.”

In Paris, in the offices of the Coordinating Committee for Aid to Ukraine, which depends on the Ukrainian Embassy in France, the phones ring less now than in late February, when the bombs started raining down on Ukraine. . But Iryna Kuderska and her team of volunteers are now noticing “something else” : “We receive calls from French people who are disillusioned. A few days ago, someone living in Ile-de-France contacted us to say: ‘Please come and pick up the Ukrainian girl I host because she is ungrateful, she pulls her mouth all the time’ “, still says stunned, the spokesman for this structure set up in a hurry at the beginning of the war to inform the Ukrainians arriving in France and the French seeking to help Ukraine. “It’s actually a person coming from a country at war who sometimes still has relatives there. There’s a reality, it’s not a guesthouse. In the medium term, yes, there may be character compatibility issues.”

“We are all volunteers. The students who followed us now have to revise their hours, I work myself. We were between 25 and 30 at the beginning of March. Now we are between 10 and 15.”

Iryna Kuderska

at france info

However, excluded for Isabelle, Laure, Emmanuelle or Lucie to deter anyone from making themselves useful. On the contrary: if it were to be done again, they would all do it again. “I welcome another person within an hour if necessary”, repeats Isabelle, who regularly takes news of “her” family now back in Ukraine. As for Lucie, she again invited “send” six Ukrainians to lunch a few days ago. It was a Sunday. She also has to set another date soon.

Leave a Comment