In Vernon, Nadiia, Nicolas Campos and their five children took in their Ukrainian family. The feelings lie between the joy of seeing you again and the fear of knowing your country under the bombs.
Late March is warmer than normal in La Maleffe, Parish of Vernon. While the children are at school, mother and daughter plant potatoes in the garden. Liudmyla marvels at the fertility of this land, more than 3,000 km away, which is unlike hers.
We met Nadiia Campos on February 21, 2022. This 30-year-old hairdresser at home expressed her concern about knowing her family in Ukraine, 200 km from Donbass. A month has passed. The family of seven suddenly grew. Nadiia, her husband Nicolas Campos and their five children aged 9, 8, 7, 3 and 1 occupy one bedroom and the mezzanine of the house. They made way to welcome Liudmyla and Serhii Holovanchykov, Nadiia’s parents, her brother Serhii (he has the same first name as his father), 18, and a 17-year-old minor, Mykyta, who was entrusted by a Ukrainian friend. . Eleven under one roof. The fridge is empty quickly… It would be nice if the garden could provide some vegetables…
Now we speak Ukrainian
and more russian
On March 11, Lyudmyla and the boys left their city of Dnipro, 250 km from the devastated Mariupol, 240 km from Kharkiv. Thirty minutes before curfew. Just enough time to take a suitcase. Nadiia took a plane to Budapest and found her mother on the Hungarian border. She returned the car, now parked in the yard.
“The war did not come to us, but there were rockets falling on buildings. » Lyudmyla smiles, but does not deviate from her sad look. Nothing will ever be the same again… The joy of seeing her grandchildren, whom she sees only once a year when family visits them in Ukraine, is accompanied by a constant fear. Several family members were able to go to Poland, but many stayed in Kharkiv, Kyiv, or near the Energodar nuclear power plant. “The men stayed to fight. My brother is exempt because he has vision problems.”explicitly Nadiia.
if you are ukrainian
Liudmyla was relieved when her husband was able to join them on March 18th. As an engineer for welding pipelines transporting oil, Serhii (pronounced Serguei) worked in Russia, but also in Turkey, in Siberia… His missions lasted from three to six months. In Russia, at the time of the conflict, he did not hear from him for a week. He had taken care to remove all applications from his phone, all messaging services… He had to take a plane to Turkey, then to Paris. Before leaving the country, he was questioned about his intentions. “At customs I was asked what channels I watch, why I’m going to France, if I want to return… I didn’t attend meetings, I didn’t feel unsafe.”he relativizes.
“Let the Heavens Close”
The family is Russian speaking. “We used to speak Russian, now we speak Ukrainian”, comments Nadiia, who wants to bring her five children closer to her culture. His relatives now have to find their way in France. The prefecture sent them the receipt, which places them under temporary protection status. “They don’t want refugee status because their goal is to return. Someday… “
“And what will we find that day? » They fear a further deterioration of the situation. “Heaven Shall Close”Liudmyla sighs helplessly, but she has discovered a worthy and courageous warlord in Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine.
Having operated on his knee a few months ago, Serhii, who is still suffering after-effects, had to be treated in Poitiers. “My parents are not yet covered by social security. You have to advance the money, it’s not easy. » But Nadiia and her husband deal with it without asking for help for now.
life is organized
The following? Mykyta should enter a high school or college. This will not happen without transport difficulties. Serhii, the son, a professional dancer, still takes video lessons when he’s not helping his uncle on the farm. Life is organizing, but Liudmyla’s thoughts are still on Ukraine. “I check the news via Twitter or Telegram. I cry a lot imagining all these people hiding in basements… A member of my family told me: “Enjoy a clear sky, ours is gray and dusty all the time.” »
In a few weeks we will see Nadiia and her family again. The editors have chosen to follow this family over the long term, during their stay in France and in Vienne while they wait for better days.
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La Maleffe, already a country of asylum in 1962
“My parents are grateful to the French state for helping them,” says Nadiia. That’s not the case everywhere. When I picked up my mother in Hungary in the middle of the night, dozens of people stood outside without shelter…”
“We are happy to welcome them, but it is difficult for them…” Nicolas Campos, farmer and breeder of horses and cattle with his father and uncle, has a sense of hospitality. The situation of Ukrainians is similar to that of their ancestors. “My Blackfoot grandparents came here in 1962. Before them, an Italian immigrant had helped Jews cross the nearby demarcation line. La Maleffe will still be a country of asylum in 2022.