After fleeing Ukraine, Tatiana works with her sister in her nursing home

For several days, Tatiana (center) joined her sister Ekaterina and her husband Pierre in their nursing home in Dives-sur-Mer. (© The Pays d’Auge)

For two weeks, Ekaterina Legrand has been finding her sister Tatiana. But the conditions for this reunion were not what the two young women had hoped for … Tatiana quickly left Ukraine to reach France, where she found her sister and her family in Dozulé. She is accompanied by her three-year-old daughter Michelle, but left behind her husband Philip, who remained available for the military reserve.

For the young woman of Belarusian origin, the last few weeks have been difficult since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “I was very scared … I was nervous all the time, scared, my knees were shaking, I did not know what was going on outside”. The choice to leave the country was a difficult decision to make.

We were refugees in my in-laws’ house, near Kiev, it was safer. As soon as we heard shelling, detonations, we went down to the basement to hide.


But the fighting got closer, “it became too dangerous, we had to go out to pick up supplies, she made the decision to leave” says Pierre, Ekaterina’s husband.

Tatiana and her daughter left Kiev with only a backpack and drove towards the Polish border. “It was very uncomfortable, we were six in the car, including two children, it was very cold. You could hear the sound of bombers. We did not feel safe,” she said. After a day in the car, the waiting time at the border lasts three days. Then they reach Krakow by bus and train, where they can then fly to Paris, “everything was full, we saw every hour after tickets put online” Pierre specifies. A journey that ultimately lasted five days.

Call for solidarity

Arriving in France and in the Pays d’Auge, Tatiana can start breathing, greeted by Ekaterina and Pierre. “We immediately assumed we were not asking ourselves the question” guarantees the latter. During her first night in the house in Dozulé, “what struck me was the silence,” notes Tatiana. Her mind is nevertheless turned towards Ukraine, “I think of my husband, of my friends from work who have stayed there”. Thanks to the Internet, it is always possible to communicate: “I have news about my husband in the evening”. Since the beginning of last week, Tatiana has been joined by her in-laws, Margarita and Vitali, who also left everything in Ukraine.

The goal is to integrate them and especially set them in motion, to prevent them from thinking about all that. The priority was to educate Michelle, she has been in school since the beginning of the week in Troarn, with our son.

Pierre Legrand

For Tatiana, the solution imposed itself. She joined the dog and cat care salon run by Pierre and Ekaterina, Crazy Dogs of Dives-sur-Mer. The two sisters do the same work and were educated in Odessa, Ukraine three years ago. “Working, caring for the dogs, allows me not to think about what is happening in Ukraine,” says Tatiana. But the reality is not so simple, “here we do not have enough work”, points out Pierre, who calls for local solidarity, “if people want to entrust us their dogs and cats …” and challenges the local artisans, “we should adapt our store, in order to organize us with one more person “.

Thinking about the future

The question of long-term adaptation arises, especially for Tatiana’s in-laws, Vitali, 74, and Margarita, 61, “they do not speak English, communication is not easy, we use software for translation,” Pierre admits. Not easy for these retired seniors who had never left their country before. “We want to find them a home first.”

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At the beginning of the week, the administrative procedures begin with the prefecture. “If Tatiana and Michelle stay here for several years, they need to be able to build something.”

Today, Tatiana admits not to plan for the future.

It’s too fast, I can not see very far, I do not think about what is going to happen yet. I’m happy to be here with my family.


Convenient: To help Pierre and Ekaterina, contact Crazy Dogs on 06 62 73 32 70.

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