Originally from eastern Ukraine, the family first passed through the center of Agde before settling with a family from Montpellier. It was the Singa association, a reference in the accommodation of refugees from all countries, that established the link between the two families.
Séverine and Thierry live in a house not far from Montpellier town hall. A floor occupied by them and a ground floor recently released. Last Friday they welcomed Elya, his wife Yulia, Andrii (17) and Artem (12), their children. A family has escaped the hell of war.
A few months ago, Elya was a consulting engineer on industrial projects in Zaporijia. Yulia was also an engineer and after the closure of her factory following the events of 2014, she was transformed into a candy factory. The Russian-speaking couple is no less attached to the country. When Putin’s army began shelling the area in early March, they fled west of the country with the children in their car. In Chernivtsi with relatives.
From Slovakia to France
Julia remembers: “We thought it would calm down. And then there were bombings every night, we lived in the basements.”. You leave the area to reach the Slovakian border. If Elya was able to stay with his family, it was after a heart problem in 2017. Since then he has had a pacemaker. This allows him to be freed from fights.
The family will embark on a long journey across Europe in overcrowded refugee camps “We lived on top of each other”, Julia is sorry. Then they make their way to a Slovak “very affectionate, but he lives in open country and we no longer existed there”. They walk without knowing where to go. You pass Austria, then Italy.
An acquaintance sends them the SOS Ukraine contact in Montpellier. The car breaks down. You travel to the Languedoc metropolis by bus. You will be picked up at the SOS Ukraine reception center and stay in Agde for several days. Before he is discovered by the humanitarian association Singa and meets Séverine and Thierry.
Education, job, future
Séverine explains the family’s choice: “Just watch the news and put yourself in the shoes of these families. It could be us. Overnight, leave the house, with your bags.”. Affected by the geographic proximity of the war. “They are like a mirror, we feel close to them.”
Singa expands its program to major cities
The program launched in 2015 by the Singa refugee housing association is present in Paris, Lyon, Montpellier and Toulouse via its jaccueille.fr platform. To respond quickly to current needs, J’accueille is expanding its program to 7 new cities in France: Marseille, Nantes, Bordeaux, Rennes, Grenoble, Lille and Strasbourg. To apply for the welcome program, all you have to do is register online at jaccueille.fr to attend an initial introductory meeting. Refugees and families are then contacted for an initial exchange before a commitment is made.
The first appointment will be made on Wednesday April 6th at SOS Ukraine Montpellier: “We had a translator. It went very well”. The Ukrainian family moved into the accommodation last Friday. The shackles are quickly tied: “They invited us to share a Ukrainian dish. We communicate using a translation application. We discovered their journey.”greets Severine.
This week is dedicated to children’s education. Parents are looking for work “Language is a problem”, You think. You take French lessons. For relatives who stayed in Ukraine, the couple assures us: “We are in constant contact.” As for the more distant future, it remains uncertain: “This is the second time that Russia has invaded our country. It will not stop. We are not sure. We do not know what to do yet.”.