Barely arrived, Liliia and Uliana are already dreaming of the day when they can “come home”

This Wednesday afternoon, Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to French parliamentarians, calling for a boycott of the Russian market or even support for arming its people fighting for freedom. 3,000 kilometers from Kiev, in the town of Bessières, north of Toulouse, Liliia watches the speech of her president, “a national hero”, on a continuous news channel.

The 31-year-old Ukrainian girl and her eight-year-old daughter, Uliana, arrived just hours earlier with their hosts, Emmanuel and Karine. Along with ten other women and 21 children, she traveled a long journey across Europe in a bus chartered by the city of Haute-Garonne, with the mayor on board, but also volunteers and Oléna, a native Ukrainian.

“They left a whole life”

A trip prepared with the authorities in Vinnytsia “who organized the extraction of these families to the Romanian border”, says city councilor Cédric Maurel, who did not hesitate when it was necessary to come to the aid of these refugees. “Most of these women left with the equivalent of a backpack, they left a lifetime,” said the mayor, who coordinated the care of these women and children of families in Bessières.

Emmanuel was also on the trip. He spotted a 15-year-old teenager on the bus who had just lost his father, killed in the fighting, with his only family by his side, his 21-year-old sister. Some had not had enough to eat and slept in a real bed for a long time. For this son of Spanish refugees, it was a matter of course to welcome Liliia and Uliana into her home. “We had space, we could handle it”, assures simply this municipal employee, who exchanges with the young woman thanks to a few words of English and an important translation application.

Four months pregnant, she left everything: her husband, her parents, her life in Vinnytsia, where she was an accountant. She would never have thought of leaving. “But there were explosions, we lived in hiding, there were up to ten alarms a day, it was scary. My husband asked me from day one to leave the country so that our child would not see the war, “she explains, while her phone constantly beeps to the rhythm of news from Ukraine, pictures of the destruction of his country’s cities, of the terrible. the number of children killed since the Russian attack.

Follow-up on courses, placement in associations

Her husband, who works on the power grids in the city of central Ukraine, stayed there and until the last minute she did not tell her grandson that they would leave their country for France, far from the forehead. Uliana’s beautiful blue eyes are sad, but the presence of Néo and Naël, Karin’s children, gives her a small smile. Everyone will also be able to find the other families who have come by their side. A discussion thread has already been created on WhatsApp and City Hall is giving them a room so they can meet.

“We have to make sure that everyone has French lessons. Thanks to a system with the city of Vinnytsia, students will continue to follow the lessons via video and will thus be able to validate their course, the youngest will be integrated into French schools,” explains Cédric Maurel Sports associations have already offered to integrate families into their activities, and an association, Solid’Ukraine 2022, has been set up to help them.

Liliia is already “grateful for the help and support” from all the volunteers. But also towards Europe “for its protective equipment and its weapons”. “If she had not supported us with others, our country might no longer exist. Our army will be fine on land. But our skies are open, it is a great danger that Ukraine is struggling to face alone. And then you have to create at least one humanitarian corridor for safe evacuation of people, ”says the young mother, whose fatigue can be read on her face.

“The Ukrainian people are more united than ever”

If she had not voted for Zelensky, she is today behind the comedian who has become “100%” warlord. And she believes in her country’s military. “The Ukrainian people are more united than ever, everyone is helping as much as they can. The women are weaving the camouflage, many men enlisted in the army from day one, they stood in line in front of the military recruitment offices for days,” she says.

This trip to France is far from the one she had one day imagined. The war hastened her on the roads of Europe, among foreigners. Karine and Emmanuel will do anything to make her feel at home. Liliia hopes to make friends and learn French. “For the first time since the beginning of the war, I am safe. But as soon as our country is calm, we dream of returning home ”.

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