Arriving from Ukraine, Olena took refuge in Cherbourg: “I left my husband, my son. My life is there!”

Vlada, Olena and Luka now live under the same roof in Cherbourg with other Ukrainian refugees.

smiling, Olena is a short 48-year-old woman. With a slim lookUkrainian Yet calm, strength and soothing warmth radiate. She is sitting on the couch playing with her granddaughter, Luka. A quiet life, after experiencing the horrors of war …

Olena arrived last week at Cherbourgafter spending several weeks in the heart of a Ukraine invaded by the Russians.

“My life is there”

Vlada Hervieus mor, the young Cherbourgeoise, who recently organized a convoy of three humanitarian aid trucks, therefore chose to join his daughter, grandson and son-in-law. A difficult decision, sinceshe had to leave her husband and son in Ukraine. “They are mobilized,” she explains simply.

And her life, she can not imagine it anywhere but in Ukraine.

I have my house, my husband, my son there. My life is there!

However, Olena is not one to give up.

I have to be strong. If my husband or my son feels like I’m down, that I’m crying when I have them on the phone, it’s going to be even harder for them … I need to show them that it’s okay for me and for Vlada.

Temporary residence permit

As soon as she arrived, Olena, with the help of her daughter, took all the steps get an APS (provisional residence permit). A few days later she went to fetch sesame from the Manche prefecture of Saint-Lô. Vlada is in charge of the translation. “I had never imagined getting such light paper. It gives me the right to live and even work in France. I never thought it would be possible.”

I would have been happy if it had been under other conditions. Today I’m sorry. The reasons for giving me this temporary residence permit are so awful. But I thank France for helping us.

Olena, here with her daughter Vlada and her granddaughter Luka, quickly got papers to be able to stay in France, and even possibly work there.
Olena, here with her daughter Vlada and her granddaughter Luka, quickly got papers to be able to stay in France, and even possibly work there. (© La Presse de la Manche)

A one-stop-shop and an e-mail address

France Terre d’Asile has been asked by the Manche prefecture to control the reception of Ukrainian refugees. The association therefore ensures in Cherbourg, in collaboration with CCAS in the city, the holding of a one-stop-shop every morning, from Monday to Friday, in CCAS ‘premises, rue Paul-Talluau. Administrative papers, housing, financial aid … France Terre d’asile thus coordinates all the associations and targets all those who can help.
The Manche Prefecture has also set up an email address ( to answer any questions about welcoming Ukrainians, whether for accommodation or other inquiries.

Learn French for work

Olena is a nurse and has previously worked on acute resuscitation. Working conditions that allow him to retire in his country. Today she receives a € 70 monthly pension. A low income seen from France.

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Olena is ready to go back to work. “Even in Ukraine it is really low income, I had to perform small tasks next door. In my country there is no social assistance, so I can not imagine doing anything,” she says.

But to work, you must above all speak the language. So Olena watches videos on the internet to learn French.

We looked, and I think she’s going to French lessons next week, given by the Itinérance association.

VladaOlena’s daughter

Help welcome

Today, the young mother and her friend, Gaël, welcome five Ukrainians to their apartment. And of course, the budget is tight. “We are also dependent on the assistance provided,” says Vlada.

Olena went to look for food at Restos du Cœur. “There was a choice between fish or meat. We had preserves, yogurt and even chocolate, it’s really very good! Every attention surprises him and brings balm to his heart.

We really get a lot of help. tak tak tak!

During her journey to make herself known to the various services, Olena also met other Ukrainian families. “Now there really is a national union, a solidarity between us «, She assures.

“Ukraine will win”

As the days went by, Olena finally got used to it. She even trains herself in pronouncing “r” in French, so it’s hard to say for any Ukrainian. But at night, when everyone is asleep, she admits that the anguish and this painful situation weighs on her smile. “It’s very hard to sleep, it’s very hard and stressful,” she says with a simple movement of her shoulder.

Olena, however, quickly pulled herself together. “I always said to myself that I wanted to live two lives. And since I’m optimistic, I think the other thing gets better, she smiles. I’m still convinced, yes! Ukraine will win, and after all that my people have been able to show, we are entering the EU, ”she assures.

Ukraine remembers her too. His phone rings, it’s his son. She stamps to answer him, the end of the interview …

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