NÎMES in Saint-Stanislas, an enchanted arch for 52 Ukrainian children

Julia, Asia and Evan give their time to make a great vacation for these kids (Photo by Corentin Corger)

During the two weeks of the Easter school holiday, the St. Stanislas Foundation in Nîmes welcomes 52 Ukrainian children to its boarding school. Thanks to the support of parents and several partners, these children between the ages of 8 and 17 live in an enchanted arc by doubling down on local activities before returning to their country that is currently being invaded by the Russian army.

On March 17, the private school received Ukrainian mothers. Thus the dialogue was established with director Sophie Offan, whose desire to help was in a useful way. At the same time, Mr. Lancry, the father of one of the students, brought to Ukraine four trucks full of donations of all kinds. One thing leads to another, the two-week hosting project, which has matured and materialized over the course of many exchanges. And so, after three days of an exhausting journey, 52 Ukrainian children and five companions, with very few belongings, arrived in San Stanislas, early last Saturday.

Taking advantage of the absence of Nîmes students during the Easter holidays, the Ukrainian delegation could occupy the boarding school. “After they arrived, they were offered breakfast at 8 am, but they wanted hot food instead. So they had their lunch plate with mashed potatoes and rolls. It was great to see their smiles”, comments the director of the institution. Free accommodation became possible thanks to the mobilization of various actors. First, parents of students who mobilized to donate clothing and hygiene products.

French food seems to delight Ukrainian children (Photo Corentin Corger)

Some families offered to help wash the sheets before the children arrived. Mother went to buy hair dryers for girls »Sophie Ofan continues, proud of such a rise in solidarity. Then some students like Ivan, Julia and Asya preferred to get involved and spend time with these kids instead of staying at home on vacation. Once there are no outings planned, they are the ones who organize all kinds of activities like this well deserved Saturday afternoon karaoke after nap.

Zoo, miniature train, aquarium and Pont du Gard are included in the program

“It was obvious for us to be present and that is my real pleasure. They are so cuddly and it will be complicated when they leave.”, acknowledgment to the Première students who have already established bonds with their new friends and who are benefiting from this wonderful experience. These remarkably Neem organized a large egg hunt on Tuesday for their guests as part of the Orthodox Easter. The program is also loaded. After the Montpellier Zoo, Salins du midi, Seaquarium this week, on Friday they will take the mini-train provided by the city of Nîmes and visit the Town Hall.

Angelina and Victoria from Bucha, near Kyiv (Photo Corentin Corger)

On Saturday, the association AJE Jeunesse et Entreprises contributes a day in Uzège to visit the Haribo Candy Museum and Pont du Gard. Next week, it is planned to start tennis at the Hauts de Nîmes club. In addition to the municipality, the Rotary Clubs and Lions (Arles, Daudet, Doyen and Sommières) funded the meals. Feeding fifty people for two weeks has an inevitable cost and requires organization.

“Mines all over town”

Most of these children come from the northern town of Semenivka, on the Russian border. On the other hand, Victoria and Angelina, both 17 years old, are from Bucha, which is located on the outskirts of Kyiv where the Russian army has taken up a position to encircle the capital. “The soldiers stole everything and now mines are scattered all over the city”explains in perfect English Angelina whose parents have taken refuge in Rivne, located west near Poland where there is no ground fighting but nonetheless aerial bombardment.

They are clearly happy to discover France for the first time and to make the most of it. The Enchanted Arch will end on Sunday 8 May before returning to Ukraine where everyone hopes to have better days.

Corentin Corger

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