Ten young Ukrainian athletes were welcomed with open arms by Canoë Club Lillois last March, when war had just broken out. Two months after their arrival, where are they? Only one returned to Ukraine. Martine Aubrey says she is willing to do anything to help them.
“There is good news and bad news‘, with this sentence Elodie Voignet begins our interview. At the end of March, she and her husband Emmanuel, president of the Lilos Canoe Club, along with their club volunteers, received ten kayak builders and Ukrainian youths from 14 to 18 years old, who went to find them by their means. Own in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Three months after the start of the war in Ukraine and two months after they arrived in Lille, the results were relatively positive. “I think they are doing really well, very well, with difficult periods that depend on each of them“, notes Elodie. Egor, 14, could have been reached”By his mother I found himrejoice. The host family agreed to sponsor these three.. ”
Of the ten young people who arrived, an 18-year-old teenage girl, called Ahlan, preferred to leave Lille and return on Saturday 21 May to her family in Ukraine because of “Adjustment difficultiesAccompanied by her host family at the airport, she boarded a plane bound for Krakow, Poland, where her sister was waiting for her.
Arriving in France, the Ukrainian youth and their coach sought to leave after a few weeks. “We told them there that they were going to an internshipBut three months into the war, Elodie noted, the conflict is no longer ready to end and they are forced to stay.
All young people learnIn middle school, high school, and even college.”. Two of them, twins Dima and Misha, are students and collect the keys to their residence at Crous on Monday, May 23. Elodie denounces the difficultieshugeAt every step.
We fight mountains with administration, social security and faculty.Elodie Voynnet, Member of the Lille Canoe Club Management Committee
For the twins, it took several weeks of battle to finally settle down. “We had an emergency about this, had to call Crous, find social workers who agreed to take them, but happy ending“.
However, there is a downside. The “The point today is housing, we have absolutely nothing.“Elodie regrets having.”There is no permanent housing solution“Ligures and the Ukrainian families who arrived in France. They are still welcomed by the volunteers, following a call for solidarity from the municipality of Lille, which since the beginning of the war has shown itself as an important support for Ukrainian refugees.
She also says that the solution that was offered to her in Lille, if families were no longer able to welcome Ukrainian refugees, was to change their adoptive home. If they can count on the other Lille families in case of a change, Elodie asserts that “These are not parcels, but people“.
On the Lille city council side, Martine Aubry says she is ready to help them. “They did not go through us and place a call on Facebook, especially since they are unaccompanied minors and should usually arrive with a parent or accompanying person with parental consent, Does she regret?. This does not mean that we are not ready to help them, on the contrary.In fact, all families have an elected reporter:We are 19 teams so we have eight, ten or twelve families each. We have a network, and we’re very excited. ”
The town hall continues to operate at a high speed. “I’m coming out of a new meeting about this this morning, and we’re in the middle of itMartin Aubrey explains. We have about thirty families who witnessed the departure of the Ukrainians.” Because the city council found them permanent housing or they managed to do it themselves.
“We are going around all the families, and we have already contacted 80% of them, she completes. Last week, we sent out a survey to families to find out their job needs. “
Some host families want to keep Ukrainians at home, others want that too, but they host Ukrainians who want independence. We adapt to what families ask for.Martin Aubry, Mayor of Lille
For those who work, calculations are made according to family status (if they have children, for example) and salary “To calculate the APL, the cell is entered to find a residence“.It’s a small building made up of two people looking for a place to stay,”But they don’t have the right to social housing, it’s a government decision, because it’s a tense area, so we’re looking at the private sector“
Town Hall says it is working hard to help refugee families find housing and work. “In a couple of weeks, we’ll have finished our families tourMartin Aubrey says.
In spite of everything, it is time for hope and especially for competitions. Young kayakers were able to leave Ukraine thanks to supporting documents proving their status as licensed athletes and members of a sports federation.
“They all went to the Libourne Championships and made the speed and marathon selections“, Elodie rejoices. The next step: the French kayaking championship to be held in Vichy on July 14, according to her,”Given their results, they will be selected“.
Here, too, problems appear. “We are 600 kilometers away and a group of nine. How do we transport them, feed them and shelter them? If someone has a minivan to lend us, we’re locked up!“The club has put a cat online to support them. In two months, they have raised just over 2,200 euros. They hope to get more help and support.
Lille Canoe Club is also organizing a contest on the 5th of June with a Lille food group helping Ukraine. There will also be training sessions at the club during the school holidays which will allow “Pay part of the travelUkrainian youth.