NewsWorldIn Paris, "pragmatic and effective mothers" to help Ukrainian...

In Paris, “pragmatic and effective mothers” to help Ukrainian refugees

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Since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, France has welcomed some 100,000 refugees on its soil. The country can count on the outpouring of solidarity from communities, businesses and also individuals. Report alongside the Mamans de Paris pour l’Ukraine, a collective on the bridge for almost four months. The appointment is now well known. It’s 1 p.m. in the corridors of the Palais des Congrès shopping center in Paris, in the very chic 17th arrondissement. In the middle of high-end brands, a shop in the colors of the Ukrainian flag stands out. The long queue too. In the crowd, young people, old people and, above all, many mothers and children. All fled Ukraine, a country ravaged by war, and found refuge in Paris or in the suburbs of Paris. Every Wednesday, the collective of Paris Moms for Ukraine gives them an appointment in this old clothing store. A gold mine of a few square meters for these refugees, who are struggling to make ends meet and provide the necessary comfort for their children. smile. “I’m coming for my son. Here, I can pick up nappies, shoes or even clothes for him. I can’t find any for free in Chaville [sa ville de résidence] so I really come here for that. I have to because I don’t have a job in France”, explains the young 27-year-old mother, who was a psychologist in Ukraine. Margaux Lemoîne, co-founder of Mamans de Paris pour l’Ukraine (left), Nadiia, refugee Ukrainian woman from kyiv, and her son, during a solidarity distribution in Paris, June 22, 2022. © Tiffany Fillon, France 24 Vegetables, cans, powdered milk, toys and even jewelry: here, you can find everything “Everyone can take what they want, in the quantities they want. There is no shortage of donations and they come from all over the place. “Yesterday, we presented our collective at the Procter & Gamble headquarters [la multinationale qui possède notamment la marque Pampers] and they agreed to give us more than 40,000 diapers”, rejoices Barbara Levy-Frebault, the distribution operations manager. their neighborhood or, at the end of their shopping, to the volunteers present in the supermarkets. raise funds – to buy products at cost price. This is the principle of one of their partnerships, with an Intermarché store in the borough. Behind this collaboration, there is a pillar: the manager of the establishment , who is none other than the father of Karolina Bloch, co-founder of the collective. Since March, this Franco-Polish mother of three children has also been in charge of organizing seven convoys of basic necessities to Ukraine. >> To read also: “Debrouille et syst th D, the new daily life of host families for Ukrainians in France””We are not association pros but to find funds and partnerships, we rely on our skills and our network, those of each volunteer. And we have a real diversity of profiles”, assures Barbara Levy-Frebault, one of the most active volunteers, who is also director of innovation in a tech group. A few meters from her, Sergei, in sweat, pushes a trolley of tin cans that he has just unloaded from his van. This tall, sturdy dark-haired man has the physical appearance of the job: he works in the building industry. In front of him, Jean-Étienne, a bookseller, gives instructions in Russian to the Ukrainians who are waiting in line, while Véronique, an engineer at Enedis, is busy in reserve to put away new boxes. “I discovered the collective on Instagram”, explains this young woman with big blue eyes. departure, I contacted the volunteers to give them clothes that I no longer wanted. The next day, I saw my boxes of clothes pictured on Instagram. At least it’s concrete!”, she rejoices. The strength of social networks Social networks are the starting point of this human adventure. “At the start, I was like everyone else, stunned by what he was happening in Ukraine with a terrible feeling of helplessness, and above all the desire to help. I answered a call from Karolina Bloch on a Facebook group of moms in my neighborhood. We didn’t know each other. She was looking for medicine to send to Ukraine. And I had. When we called each other, we thought we could collect massively and more efficiently by creating a network of mothers responsible for organizing collection points in Île-de-France”, explains Margaux Lemoîne, who co-founded the collective. The same day, March 4, the two women launched a Facebook group. “In a few days, we had 40 ‘relay mothers’ and the basic team was created”, summarizes this journalist in professional retraining. the collective, which organizes all its actions on WhatsApp groups, has 4,600 members on Facebook, nearly 1,300 subscribers on Instagram, and has counted up to 250 active volunteers.About 450 adults and as many Ukrainian children go to every distribution.” Social media has enabled exponential growth. I didn’t think it was possible”, is surprised Barbara Levy-Frebault. For Margaux Lemoîne, the very name of the collective has also participated in the development of the community. “It is efficient, straight to the point, even if it means segmenting . The goal was to federate a solidarity network very quickly. Even if obviously our group has been open to everyone from the start,” she says. “Our name is reassuring for these Ukrainian families, with this universal notion of protective mothers”, adds this mother of three children who is in charge of structuring and developing the collective. Ironically, the mental load borne by the mothers family was the strength of the team. “Mums are used to juggling between their job, their children, logistics at home and managing a thousand problems at the same time. So they are often very pragmatic and efficient,” says Margaux Lemoîne. We have been at full speed since the beginning of March. For the mission managers and the close team, it is very engaging and intense, without cuts in the evening and on weekends”, admits Margaux Lemoîne, who notes a “shortness of donations” and a drop in the number of active volunteers. .>> To read also: “The reception of Ukrainian refugees in Poland, or how to heal the wounds of History”Another obstacle: the room where the distributions take place was lent by the town hall and will have to be returned at the end of June. All the more reason to consider the future of the collective.”We are thinking about another way of helping, less time-consuming, with more autonomy for volunteers who wish to continue to invest”, continues Margaux Lemoîne.The Les Mamans collective of Paris for Ukraine wishes to create a sponsorship system, which would allow refugees to be accompanied by volunteers to, for example, find a job. Actions deemed more in line with the current context: Ukrainians are now returning to their country and the arrivals ies are less important today than in the spring. “We are no longer in an emergency situation”, notes Margaux Lemoîne. Even if a page is turned, the young woman remains optimistic. “After four months of existence, our slogan is validated: ‘Together, we can really move mountains!'”

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