Christian Laroubine collected Natacha, her mother Ludmilla, her husband Greg and their three children from the Clermont-Ferrand train station in his 4×4 with a luggage tag. They left the Auvergne capital just after 11pm on Saturday and arrived in Croze at 4am on Sunday.
Today, the Ukrainian family lives in Christian Laroubine’s holiday home in the hamlet of Croze. In the village and in the community, a nice solidarity immediately developed. Didier Ternat, mayor of Croze and neighbor of Christian Laroubine, was the first to intervene. With his wife Maryse he mobilized people of good will and paid for them himself… The arrival of the family from Ukraine is no coincidence.
Christian and Ludmilla, 25 year old friends
Christian Laroubine, now retired, was a renowned planetary engineer and reference author. A native of Creusois, he has worked in various regions of the world, including Ukraine. This is how he met Ludmilla, an equally top-class scientist, who has received and hosted him several times over the past 25 years. They have become friends. Christian Laroubine met Ludmilla’s two daughters and their families, i.e. Natacha, but also Elena, who could not leave Ukraine with her husband and children. They live in a town very close to a nuclear power plant, which prevents them from being bombed for the time being. The two sisters have kept in touch despite the distance that separates them today… Greg, father of three children, could not be mobilized (breadwinner of the family). That’s why he was allowed to leave his country.
“Right from the start of the conflict, I was concerned about the situation of Ludmilla and his family,” explains Christian Laroubine. I was very worried. Eight days later, the city of Dnipro was bombed, a bomb fell near Ludmilla’s garden. I told him that it was important to protect the children and that they had to leave as soon as possible. It was the beginning of the exodus, with news, true or false, making the rounds and adding to the general panic. I was sure that Dnipro, a strategic place, would be bombed.”
On the way to the Exodus
The Creuse engineer knows Ukraine and its history well. He also knows the Russians and is afraid. He is not surprised by current events. It commemorates the 5 million deaths caused by the famine orchestrated by Stalin in 1932. For him, history just repeats itself.
The Ukrainian family left Dnipro by car. She then took a train to Budapest. She arrived in Vienna, then in Munich and Zurich. The Red Cross took care of them, as did the SNCF and the train police (whose dedication Christian Laroubine praises). The journey of nearly 3,000km passed through Lyon and then Clermont-Ferrand, with Christian Laroubine staying in regular contact with Ludmilla. The Lyon blizzard made the end of Croze epic and grueling.
“The children were terribly stressed and panicking,” explains Maryse Ternat. It was finally my dog who relaxed her. Then they were given a ball. The smile returned. She started cooking, preparing the first meals. The two Ukrainians insisted on preparing dishes from their country. Neighbors brought food and clothes. Didier Ternat had already launched an appeal for donations at community level, which proved to be successful.
“There was enormous solidarity. The Creuse people are open and generous, they know how to welcome foreigners. It’s awesome “.
And now ?
Back to Ukraine? Are you staying in the Creuse? Ludmilla dreams of returning to her country. Your children are afraid of what they might discover. So instead of starting a new life in Creuse, they think about it. Natacha has a solid background in fabrics and wool, Greg has worked in a large hardware store. Didier Ternat has applied to the prefecture to regulate the family’s situation and obtain the residence permit that will allow them to work and benefit from allowances. He contacted his colleagues Denis Priouret and Marina Bonifas so that the two oldest children could be admitted to the school of Saint-Quentin-la-Chabanne or that of Gioux.
The community of Croze continues to mobilize to obtain clothing, food and miscellaneous equipment. She is also looking for an interpreter to overcome the language barrier. Nothing is easy, but the mayor and his friend Christian assure him: “We will do our best”.