11:15 am, March 13, 2022
She has to concentrate to remember that she is 41 years old. Alla Sviatkovskaya forgot about her age. Four hours earlier, this Friday, this Ukrainian mother, her husband and their three children, ages 6 to 17, arrived in Paris by train from Germany after a journey of more than forty-eight hours. †We hesitated, then we chose France† confides in this brunette with her hair in a bun, her face hollowed out with worry and fatigue. As soon as they arrived at Gare de l’Est, the family was taken to the Accueil Ukraine center that had been set up since March 3 by the city of Paris in the 18th arrondissement to centralize the reception of refugees.
It’s just time for things to settle down in Ukraine. We want to go home
Every day, 400 to 500 Ukrainians, mostly women with children, flock to this hive managed by the France Terre d’Asile association. The center provides them with state-funded housing and allows them to take the steps to obtain papers and temporary protection. More than 2,500 refugees have already been accommodated there. Many of them are waiting this Friday afternoon for the bus that will take them to their first night in France.
“We have no plans to stay. assures Allah. It’s just time for the kids to find a little rest, to be able to go to school. Let it calm down in Ukraine. We want to go home.† His hope? May the conflict not last. †But with the war in the Donbass it was the same, and eight years later it remained in the stage of hope, so…† She doesn’t finish her sentence.
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Poland, then Germany
Two weeks ago, an eternity, Alla had a big jeans store in Kiev. Tonight she does not know where her family will sleep. While her husband takes care of the administrative procedures, her youngest son Timur runs through drawings, huts and toys in a corner set up for children. Arthur, ten years his junior, has his eye on a video game. Karina, the 17-year-old eldest, sits with her head in a hood hunched over her phone with a friend she met on the trip. †I’m scared and feel very guilty, I feel like I betrayed my country by fleeing† testifies the teenager, who knows †all right the war† His military uncle fought eight years ago. She remembers the †continuous crying† from his grandmother; of his drawings sent to the soldiers.
I cried the first two days. Since then, fear and anger against the attackers have taken over
Alla and her children left the Ukrainian capital on February 24, †from the first bombings† His brother took them to the Khmelnytskyi region in the west of the country, where their parents are from. †The next day it took already two days to leave the city because of traffic jams. 30 kilometers away, just after our passage, a town was bombed.† On the seventh day, she convinced her husband, who remained in Kiev, to join them. Authorized to leave the country as a father of three, this car entrepreneur hit the road on March 7. Two days later, the reunited family took the train to Lviv, then buses to Krakow, Poland, and then to Germany.
Talk about already †Putin’s madness† of this †perverted desire of the Russians to want to take [ce] territory for years† and a little †weakness† former presidents of his country. †In Ukraine we say we never know where the soul is in the body, but we do know what it feels like when we suffer, says Alla, apologizing for her tears. I live with this pain continuously that prevents me from breathing. I wake up with a pounding heart, with fear† † His daughter Karina thinks back to this boy from †18 or 20 years old† encountered on the road to exile, who? †may have to go to war††I cried the first two days, she says. Since then, fear and anger against the attackers have taken over. †