a Ukrainian family recounts their exile

a Ukrainian family recounts their exile

Leaving Mariupol

“After a few days, we had no more water, electricity, gas. There were already a lot of explosions nearby, my family was very stressed, he explains softly. We were especially afraid for our children, they did not understand what was happening. When a bomb fell on the road near our house, we made the decision to leave Mariupol. »

“When a bomb fell on the road next to our house, we made the decision to leave Mariupol”

From the beginning of the Russian offensive, the industrial port of the Sea of ​​Azov is part of Putin’s strategic objectives and the city is quickly blocked. Illiya Ponomarev learns from her Church that other families have managed to get out. “I had no confirmation as to the safety of the road. We prayed for God to bless us. On March 2, at 9 am, we left. »

” War movie “

The family leads a convoy of 30 vehicles in their small blue Ukrainian car ZAZ. “We did everything we could to protect our family. We put up a white flag and wrote in big letters that we had children inside. The column must pass through a gray zone, disputed by the Ukrainian and Russian armies.

Along the way, the family continues to pray. “What I saw on this road was really sad. I was very afraid. It was war movie footage. Lots of craters, burning cars. It was raining, we couldn’t see well, explains Illiya modestly, her eyes clouded by these painful memories. We saw a military vehicle in front of us blocking the road. They were Russians. They asked us who we were, they checked our car and every person. Thank God they didn’t touch us and we were able to get through the checkpoint. »

“It was images from a war movie. Lots of craters, burning cars”

4,000 kilometers

Despite the mutual aid between exiles, it is “hard to find petrol, the traffic is dense”. After two days, the family reached the border as the situation deteriorated. “We decided to leave the country. We crossed Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Austria and Germany, before arriving in France. »

After a journey of 4,000 kilometers, the Ponomarevs arrived in the South West of France on March 12. “I knew the Ukrainian Church of Bordeaux. I was born in the same region as his pastor, Viktor Solovii. We saw each other several times a year, for Church gatherings, before he came to France, ”explains Illiya. The pastor, mobilized since February, helps them find temporary accommodation in the north of the Landes.

In Parentis-en-Born, Biscarrosse or Sanguinet, different people house them. “The first few days, an elderly couple brought us food and clothes. I don’t know who they were but I would very much like to be able to thank them one day, he recalls, touched by the generosity observed since his arrival. Right now, we’re staying with a family that lends us a little house in Parentis. They opened their doors and their hearts to us. »

” To start over “

From now on, Illiya and his wife imagine their future in the Landes. “Our house exploded. We think that it is God who guides our path and who made us leave it: if we had stayed, we would have died”, explains the survivor.

Despite the financial support, the couple put their small car on sale on the Leboncoin website, to support themselves: “It’s still a bit complicated to live in France. We had a good salary, a house, a vehicle. We have lost everything and we have to start from scratch. »

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