A haven of peace for Ukrainian refugees in Comines

A farmer in Comines, Jean-Paul Decherf has been hosting a Ukrainian family since early April in his late father’s house. To assuage their exile as much as possible, a beautiful solidarity was organized around them.

Right Jean-Paul Decherf, farmer in Comines, with Dmytro, Polina and Ostap, whom he hosts in a house adjacent to his farm. © LDG

A house in the heart of your farm. This is what Jean-Paul Decherf, a polycultivator and breeder in Comines (59), has been offering Polina, Dmytro and Ostap, a thirty-something Ukrainian woman and her two children aged 15 and 9, since the beginning of April.

A parenthesis that puts the war away for a while, without, however, completely drowning out its echo.

Campaign resolution

It was during the presidential campaign that the idea of ​​this mestizo came up. “I participated in some meetings to support Valérie Pécresse with Xavier Bertrandhe situates. One of them took place at Marcq-en-Barœul (59). It had been a month since the war in Ukraine had started. A Ukrainian from the embassy came to talk about the situation. The state of your country, the refugees in Poland… I thought of my grandparents, who had to leave for Normandy when the Nazis arrived…

The one who spoke to their Polish seasonal workers who came to plant the potatoes heard their testimonies about the bombings and the refugee lines. So the ambassador’s decides.

“My father’s house has been empty since his death seven or eight years ago. I spoke to my wife about this. She told myself I couldn’t leave it empty. »

He reports to the prefecture, which, together with the prefecture, organizes the placement of families from Ukraine. Agents are quick to come and inspect the facility to ensure good reception conditions. So, it’s the date.

The date, the farmer effortlessly remembers. “It’s simple: they arrived in early April, eight days before the first round. The inspection of the facilities was carried out on a Thursday, the following Saturday Polina, Dmytro and Ostap were with us! They had nothing… I brought her milk and potatoes from my farm, she asked me how much she owed me. It touched me that she asked me the question. »


It is with the help of Google trad and a soft voice that Polina, who still does not speak French, tells her story. “We come from Ternopil, in western Ukraine. There were rumors that they would continue to bomb us, so we left, except for my husband who had to stay to defend the country. We crossed the Polish border on foot, led by friends, and on March 8 we arrived at a friend of my husband’s who has lived in France for seven years, who helped me with my first steps. »

The voice sounded by the violence of the tear she tells, she describes in excerpts her previous life, bank employee and then housewife. Her husband Sergiy was a truck driver. He now works in the ranks of the Red Cross. “My parents stayed there too. It’s easy for us to be safe. I worry about them and I call every day to see if they are okay. I would like the conflict to end quickly. But my husband says we have to be prepared for it to last. »

How does she find Comines? ” Smaller than Ternopil, she smiled sadly, but my parents lived in the countryside nearby. » How are your kids dealing with the situation? “The younger you are, the easier it is to get used to the situation. It’s a little harder for Dmytro…”

local solidarity

When the Ukrainian family arrived, the villagers offered to help. “Two families around us regularly pick them up to take them on outings because my wife and I don’t have time on the farm. They even went to see the kites in Berck! We asked the mayor for a room so that all families staying in Comines could meet regularly, he told me he was going to do that. »

Because in Comines, Jean-Paul Decherf isn’t the only one doing what he does: he knows at least two other families who live in the city. Hospitality that requires a special approach. “In the beginning you have to go slowly, there are still people who arrive in a state of shock. The little boy was very scared when he arrived, he clung to his mother a lot. He was even afraid of the Bondues planes…”

New routine

Thanks to Comines City Council “who did his work of humanity”Dmytro and Ostap are educated at the local school and college and take parallel courses at a Ukrainian online school.

Polina got a job at Ferme de la Gontière, the mushroom farm in Comines, and it starts at 5 am. He is therefore a neighbor who takes Ostap to school. Dmytro travels by bicycle. Did the discovery of the farm thrill young Ukrainians? “They’d rather be on the internet than on the tractor! »laughs Jean-Paul Decherf, who spends every day greeting his guests. “I bring them milk from the farm, it makes them happy. When we finish the potatoes, Polina wants to cook us a Ukrainian dish. »

Lucie De Gusseme

Also read: Solidarity: The Château d’Ecou in Tilques (62) has become a reception center for Ukrainian refugees

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