What we said
In an article published in M The magazine of the World in May 2022, I told about the very personal reunion between the Duchenko family, who lives in Vinnytsia, south-west of kyiv, and mine, in Chambéry. In 1993, the son, Ivan, then 10 years old, came to France for the first time, within the framework of a reception program for the children of Chernobyl. His parents worked at the plant when reactor number 4 exploded on the night of April 25-26, 1986. Ivan spent several summers with my family. His little sister, Anna, was staying with a young couple in Pas-de-Calais.
In 1994, my parents brought us to Ukraine. There we met Ivan’s parents, Halyna and Vasily, in Vinnytsia, where they had been relocated after the Chernobyl disaster. The Duchenkos came to France the following year. Thirty-six years later, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Halyna took refuge in Chambéry, with Maryna, Ivan’s wife, and their two children, Andrii (10) and Vira (4). . Deputy director of the Vinnytsia energy company, in charge of electricity distribution, Ivan was mobilized to his post. Her sister, Anna, headmistress of a primary school, refused to leave. Their father chose to stay with them.
What happened next
At the end of June 2022, Ivan’s mother decided to return to Ukraine. Speaking neither French nor English, she suffered from not being able to make herself understood. In Ukraine, Ivan’s grandmother had to be hospitalized while he was away. She herself had health problems. Maryna and the children stayed another month. Ivan obtained permission to come and see them for a few days. At the end of July, Maryna decided to return home: she had just discovered that she was pregnant.
“The hardest thing was hearing the warning sirens announcing an enemy attack and the electricity that disappears for hours, without knowing when it will come back. » Maryna
This pregnancy couldn’t have come at a worse time. But Ivan was ecstatic: he always wanted to have three children. So he set himself a mission: that nothing negative could affect his wife for the next nine months. ” The hardest, says Maryna, was to hear the warning sirens that announce an enemy attack and the electricity that disappears for hours, without knowing when it will return. » Professor of pharmacy at the university, she taught until mid-January. On February 16, little Milanka was born in the hospital in Vinnytsia. “All I want now is for my children to be able to grow up in a peaceful country,” says Maryna.
In her posts, Ivan’s sister Anna tries to always stay positive. But the weariness is felt. In September, classes resumed at his school. Power outages have become more frequent. At the beginning of December, Anna said: “My school and my apartment are on two different power lines. When I leave home in the morning, there is no electricity. at school, we have it for an hour. Then two hours during the day. When I come home in the evening, there are already no more. So I do my laundry at night when she comes back. » So that the pupils can continue to study during the bombing alerts, the teachers have fitted out the basements, thanks to donations collected abroad, within the framework of the “Bracelets and Peace” operation, of which Anna is one of the initiators. When the electricity goes out, the students continue to study by the light of their flashlights.