Roulx. A Ukrainian family living with Pierre and Eliane, pensioners

Despite Pierre and Eliane’s remarkable hospitality, there is no time to smile at Katia and three of their four children. The 42-year-old Ukrainian mum has drawn features and worried eyes: ” Thoughts don’t sleep ‘, she translates into French on her smartphone. Part of his family stayed in the small village near Ternopol in the west of the country, about fifty kilometers from the Polish border. The husband, Sergei, the city’s mayor, and the 21-year-old eldest son refuse to leave their country to resist the Russian invasion. ” Sergei is a little cousinsays Pierre, pensioner from SevelNord, He asked me if I could take his family to safety. I didn’t hesitate for a second. “

“Like a rooted tree that must be felled”

Pierre Kretschkowski, 69, has French-Ukrainian citizenship. ” My father was a political refugee in France in 1949. He worked in the mines at Ostricourt. My mother is from Odessa. So I understand the situation and I also know how attached Ukrainians are to their country. It’s like a rooted tree that has to be cut down to make it go away. “

“I want to find a job and an apartment”

The uprooting is total for this family, who arrived on March 13 from Brussels via Berlin and before that from Poland, where they stayed with relatives for a week. Not all experience this forced and forced exile in the same way. On Monday, little Iana, 9, returned from her first day of school in Rœulx with Eliane on a scooter. She hugged her mother for a long time. On Saturday she took part in a karate class in the village. Mikhailo, 16, cheers up the family. In the evenings, he pulls out the guitar given to him by a generous local donor and hums AC/DC and Deep Purple songs to the table. That weekend he played volleyball in the gym and made a friend in the village. Illia, 13, wearing a Slipknot t-shirt on her back, has her face closed and comes out of her room just for the photo. ” He just sleeps, he has stomach pains and vomits ‘ Eliane exclaimed. Katia, she follows the information about the conflict on her smartphone and is impatiently waiting for her husband’s call in the evening. She said to herself ” ashamed ” to stay with Pierre and Eliane. ” I want to find a job and an apartment ‘ she admits. ” Ukrainians are like that stone shadowthey don’t like being dependent on anyone. “Meanwhile, this professional pastry chef introduces the couple from Roeulx to some Ukrainian specialties like pirozhkis. And Eliane returns the favor with him every other evening. ” They loved my cassoulet and fries “, She smiles.

“They were cold but didn’t dare say it”

We do everything to make them feel as good as possibleadds Pierre, For example, her father texted me to ask if I could turn on the heating. They were cold but didn’t dare tell me. The climate is not the same at all, here it is very humid for them. “The problem is that no one knows how long this exile will last. ” We can’t wait to leave but we feel safe here ” confides Katia. The mother of the family shows her thumb and puts her hand on her heart when she recalls the generosity of Pierre and Eliane and the solidarity sparked by Alexandra on the internet (see opposite). Every evening, long after dinner, the Ukrainian family meets in the room shared by Katia and her granddaughter. ” They talk for a long time, cheer up, stick together ‘ says Pierre. Who has tears in his eyes rereading the message sent by his daughter the day before, he is a father of three: “ You are a golden father, I am proud of you ‘ she says of the hospitality shown to this Ukrainian family.

Putin? “A Sick Man”

Then it’s time to address the subject everyone tries to avoid just to not add salt to the wound: war. Katja says her village has been spared from the Russian attacks for the time being, but that could change at any moment. The neighboring city of Lemberg, for example, was the target of bombing raids. She adds that the ” War was feared but we never thought it would begin. ” For them, Putin is a ” sick man ‘ she writes on her smartphone. The man to be killed claims Mikhailo and jumps up from his chair. Katia really wants her country to join the European Union. And expresses it Many thanks to all European countries for their solidarity ‘ with the Ukrainian people.

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