“We must hear the cry of the poor and make it our own….” This is one of the Orientations of our recent General Chapter. So when the Mayor of Le Conquet – a town in Finistère, Brittany, France – came to ask us to welcome a Ukrainian family to our holiday Guest House, we gave him a positive answer while stressing that we could not take care of the administrative procedures, nor of the family’s food, which he understood, at the same time making sure that the family would be able to live with us.
This family was already hosted in Le Conquet, by Catherine and Gilles, but they could no longer ensure their accommodation because Catherine had to host her mother who had just undergone treatment… However, they kept the link with the Ukrainian family and remained very present to them.
And so, since 12 April, Lydia, Zeltana and Irina have been our neighbours. They neither speak nor understand French: so our dialogues are done with the help of their smartphone which translates French into Ukrainian and vice versa…. Nice and useful technique! On the other hand, how much they know how to express their gratitude by their smile or their affectionate gestures! They are at ease in our home, enjoy their autonomy, do their own cooking and laundry and enjoy the nearby beach. Of course, at times we feel that they are worried because they have left their husbands and brothers in Kiev – Zelatana, Irina’s mother, has left her grown-up daughter who has a granddaughter there. They have little news, they have questions because they know the danger they are facing… and they just want to return to their family. Irina, 10 years old, attends classes at the Collège Dom Michel, Lydia and Zeltana, every afternoon, join other Ukrainians at the library where they are given French lessons and already many words are familiar to them: bonjour, bonsoir, merci, the days of the week, counting to 10… but conversation and exchange remain difficult!
This welcome opened up other horizons for us because with all the Ukrainians welcomed in Le Conquet, we, the hosts and teachers, were invited to a picnic meal at Catherine and Gilles’ house: a very friendly atmosphere where exchanges and conversations were free…
While the holiday Guest House should now be available for the first holidaymakers, on 14 June Lydia, Zeltana and Irina will be leaving us: another home has been found for them, not far from our house. We will thus have the opportunity to see them again, to welcome them…
The community of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit of Le Conquet.
Published on 11th June 2022