After a three-week escape from war, Hanna and her son Tymofii finally find peace with their new foster family in Garidech.
“I am very happy to be welcomed into this family.” Hanna, a 44-year-old Ukrainian, arrived with her son Tymoffi at Julie Cazals, who breeds horses in Garidech, on Tuesday evening. In the heart of the Toulouse countryside, this 30-hectare site conducive to recreation finally offers space to refugees. Tall, blonde Hanna and her son, who shares his mother’s bright eyes, left their homeland on March 3, leaving their family behind. Her husband and twenty-year-old son stayed to fight at the front. Then they travel through a part of Europe: from Poland, where a family helps them find a means of transport to get to Austria by car. In Vienna she is supported by an association. It will then be Paris and then a train journey that will allow them to put their few belongings in Garidech. Freshly arrived on Tuesday evening at 10 p.m., they gradually orientate themselves. The temperature is a first big change. “They came in après-ski clothes,” Julie notes.
The homestay is privatizing the two bedroom, one bathroom floor for Hannah and her son. A quiet addiction that allows them to rest. It’s about finding the balance between respecting their independence and integrating into their new haven. Everyone shares meals together, which offers the opportunity for a tentative exchange despite the language barrier. “We speak French as much as possible so that they get used to the language,” says Julie. A Ukrainian volunteer who only speaks his native language comes to translate on request to facilitate the exchange. Beyond language, self-confidence must be gained gradually after such a life upheaval. The host family first tries to calm Hanna down, who keeps asking if they can stay.
The boy regains his confidence
When he arrived, Tymoffi always stayed close to his mother, in his bubble, avoiding the eyes of his hosts.
Over time, the 7-year-old gains self-confidence: “He gradually lets go, he appropriates the space,” remarks Julie in a friendly manner. It must be said that their temporary home is not short of company with three dogs, four cats and several horses. The child also began communicating with a horse, “it likes it very much,” according to its mother. Tymoffi will return to school on Monday to play with friends his own age and certainly another little Ukrainian girl. With their host family, he visited his new class and met his teacher.
A new routine that allows Hanna to take time for herself. “We can go to the market, go for a walk,” says Julie’s mother, who has been very present since her arrival.
Despite the distance, the mother and her son keep in touch with their family in Zaporizhia through daily WhatsApp calls. Like Julie, more and more families are offering their homes to Ukrainian refugees.
“It may take a long time, but we will commit to the end,” she concludes.