The war in Ukraine: the Kamonites improvise and organize humanitarian convoys

On Friday, April 22nd, in Aubreyville, not far from Verdun, Joel made a date for her friends. Why is this city of 392 inhabitants, located in the hills of Argun, the highest place of fighting during the 14-18 massacre? Geography’s chance, even if a small squad is about to hit the road, on trucks stuffed with food and medical equipment, toward another war, the one that’s ravaging today in the heart of Europe. For Joëlle and her friends from all over France, Aubréville is a rallying point before the great crossing to the east. Most of them are on their second mission. Almost 4,000km to swallow on the weekends because they work on Mondays (excluding retirees, the oldest of whom is 70 years old). One is a hairdresser, the other is a math teacher or real estate agent, or even a lawyer, goldsmith, art therapist at a psychiatric hospital, tour operator, labor law advisor, actress…

Read also >> The war in Ukraine: a humanitarian convoy of citizens

“I said to myself: My daughter, you have a truck, go ahead.”

MFTH Group founder, Joëlle Lecroart, April 22 © Ed Alcock / MYOP

In short, they are in short, parking in front of the multi-purpose hall in the small town, we are nothing but human adventurers. “The only person who, if necessary, can have the profile,” is Joëlle.” Joëlle Lecroart, jogging pants with the “hakuna matata” logo, red sneakers, short hair and a former National Navy officer. At 61, she was “The boss,” as her colleagues call her, has been struggling since the Russians invaded Ukraine. On that day, says the ex-soldier, while checking the goods lined up in the parking lot, I was at home in Evelyn, and, like everyone else, I was angry at our helplessness. Then I said to myself, ‘Daughter, you have a truck, go ahead!’ says Joëlle, ‘Mr. Renault who has a refrigerator and stove (it was my wife who installed it),’ he traveled to Corsica in the summer, and he could go as far as the Ukrainian border. ‘No doubt you will be left alone.’ “Girlfriends,” she immediately exclaimed, because Joëlle has a knack for making friends everywhere. In feminist circles where she’s been active, in performances, at operas she’s a fan, in diving clubs or while Running races, marathons, super tracks that are dedicated to. Equally passionate. This is it The way she set up her eclectic commando – baptized MFTH, which means “My Brothers Are Your Humanity”*. Claire, Sandrine, Anouk, Gayle, Catherine, Brigitte, Philly, Lawrence, Isabel, Martin, Albany, etc., they all started collecting money from drugstores or supermarkets. Sorting, packing and logistic processing hours. Their apartments were full of boxes, “even in bathtubs.” Including Joëlle’s truck, there was enough to fill seven trucks, rented or loaned, including one from a movie production company. Their first convoy set off on March 24 towards the Ukrainian border. “There, I saw some of our parcels departing forward. I, the Fifty Housewife, took part in it! Claire is still amazed, a month later, as the day begins to greet the welcome buffet prepared by Estelle, Chairman of the Aubréville Festival Committee, with the approval of the Mayor, who organized Also a group in the village. A nurse by trade, he donated bandages and splints. An old couple shows a walker and a coat jacket. Everyone gives what they can. “This is France too,” says the truck drivers, before returning to their gear.


Claire, MFTH Member, Packaging © Ed Alcock / MYOP

“Everywhere, we see people like you and me on the move.”

At 7 p.m., they hit the gas pedal. Friday night will be long. In the passenger compartments, they take turns at the wheel, share via WhatsApp the ups and downs of their journey, and are overwhelmed by the thought of finding volunteers they met during the previous convoy. In لودód, Poland, for example, Iona, the director of the cultural and social center that receives more than 600 Ukrainian refugees daily, is waiting for them. “You are the only ones who helped us from outside,” she told them in March. And on this Saturday, April 23, when the MFTH arrives, exhausted and ruthless, there is still a hug. “What a joy to add our little stone to the building,” says Sandrine, who a few hours ago was still working on a movie shot in Paris. On the advice of Marta, a Polish friend of Joel living in France, the MFTHs were targeted as a priority “associations that large NGOs have not been able to provide because the needs are enormous”. Since the beginning of the war, nearly two million Ukrainians have come to Poland, where civil society, more than the government, has shown extraordinary solidarity. “Everywhere we see hoteliers, bank clerks, teachers, people like you and me on the move,” Anouk was transported during the second stage, in Warsaw, to Katarzyna, a young woman who ended up opening a warehouse to store the many packages made by his countrymen. Truck drivers unload 20 m3 of children’s toys and clothes there. A gift from Vertbaudet, obtained because Joëlle discovered the phone “from HRD at the company, nephew of a fellow CAC 40” where she has worked since leaving the military. All is well for the “commander” who is now directing her forces to the Warsaw airport, to the headquarters of the Friends of Ukraine, and then to the headquarters of the Uniters Corporation, located in the West Terminal. There, among the exiles who continued to arrive, wheelchairs, medicines, compresses, syringes, bandages were deposited, and soon they were taken to Mariupol or Kharkiv under military escort. “Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is telling us that they will send us an official letter of thanks,” Joëlle announced in the WhatsApp episode of the convoy being restarted for final delivery. Tons of cable! For the thousands of dogs and cats who have arrived in Poland in the arms of refugees or wander through the ruins of bombed cities that volunteers are trying to save. The pellets, given by the mother of an MFTH, head of SPA in Périgueux, were transported by a retired engineer, policeman and taxi driver. These three members of the Animal Protection Society joined the girls’ caravan. If we add the computer scientist (which Joëlle stole that she usually trains to run) and the spotty workers from the show who accompanies Sandrine, that makes six guys in the middle of girlfriends. “You guys deserve to be women,” the latter throws them, on the way back, while agitating for a third expedition. Why not in a semi-trailer this time? Date already scheduled: June 6. Summer vacation won’t be easy either. The MFTHs planned to activate, in the accommodation centers where they saw many mothers and children affected by the intense fighting, workshops, cinema, dance, sports and reading. On the Ukrainian border, the Polish volunteers, who had already given a lot, began to tire. Joel and her friends promised not to abandon them.

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