At the house of associations, refugees from various regions of Ukraine meet for a drink organized by the municipality. Arrived on the Singular Island by interposed acquaintances, they would now be around fifty.
At the Maison des associations, rue du Moulin à Vent, CCAS workers placed cookies and sweets on cardboard plates, and placed a few board games borrowed from the toy library.
Behind the seemingly playful conversations and a few smiles, we notice marked and feverish faces. The meeting drink is organized for Ukrainians who have just arrived in Sète.
On Whatsapp, the echo of the sirens
Here and there, Hanna Roig acts as an interpreter. This Ukrainian married to a Frenchman has lived in Sète for several years. Through acquaintances of her Ukrainian relatives, she directs refugees to Sète. By collaborating with the CCAS, it was thus able to lead families to volunteer carers who had contacted municipal services.
This is how Jana, originally from Dnipro, crossed paths with Christine, a retired nurse from Sète, where she now lives with her daughter. “I am so grateful! Christine will always be part of my family.“, moved Jana.
Between two discussions, the young woman scans, on Whatsapp, the group “Sirena Dnipro”, which reports daily bomb threats in the city. Her husband stayed there and continues to work there as a lawyer.
Beets for borscht
In a corner, Natalia, in her forties, and her daughter Nastya, 24, tease each other. Natalia was an accountant in kyiv and is now trying to work remotely, while Nastya is diligently taking French lessons. “We hope with all our hearts to return home as soon as possible. At the same time, we try to plan for the future in case we stay a long time.”, she explains.
They came with Natalia’s parents. “It’s very hard for them, they are completely out of their element.“, she says. At the market, they bought beets, to prepare a borscht.
The Ukrainians of Sète now have their Whatsapp group, thanks to which they organize and support each other. Adults and children included, they would now be around fifty. Hanna Roig and her husband Didier also plan to create an information site dedicated to the community.