The Solidarity fire brigade association traveled to Przemysl, Poland, where it installed 42 showers in a reception center for Ukrainian refugees.
A few weeks after the war in Ukraine began this winter, volunteers from the Pompiers Solidaires association went on an assessment mission to Przemysl, a city located in Poland, eight kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
There they found a makeshift camp set up in a former shopping center where about 5,000 people were crammed every day, mainly women and children.
On site: no sanitary blocks, just five toilets. Impossible to wash, which adds to the human and moral misery of all these refugees, who often left in a hurry, with very little luggage and with the means to change.
Faced with this sad finding, the members of the Pompiers Solidaires association – which has six delegations in France, one of which in Aude for Occitania – decide to equip this visitor center with showers as quickly as possible and to alternate on the spot.
Of which note: 42 cabins were installed, 35 for women and five for men. These individual showers, arranged in containers, were hired locally to a Polish company.
Marjorie Boyer, who was president of the Languedoc-Roussillon delegation and now national secretary of the Federation of Solidarity Firefighters, was part of the second trip, at the end of April.
On site, for a week, this Aude volunteer took care of the logistics, the hot water tanks but also the periodic cleaning of the doors and gutters of the prefabricated buildings containing the shower enclosures.
We gave thanks every day! The refugees were happy to finally have a moment of intimacy, to feel clean. Psychologically, it’s nice to be able to wash, comb your hair, take care of yourself.Marjorie Boyer,
National Secretary of the Federation of Solidarity Firefighters
Currently, the teams taking turns on the spot are witnessing the arrival of refugees from the cities of Odessa and Mariupol.
During her week-long stay, Marjorie Boyer was marked by the mental strength of the people she met there, mainly women with young children: “They are very resistant people, they are strong, they go on despite the sadness, the fear, the fatigue. They are a people who support their country, moreover many have returned to Ukraine“.
On site the showers are also used by many volunteers from all over Europe. Many have come alone, alone, without charity to guide them.
This outpouring of generosity also touched the Aude volunteer: “This is one of the things that struck me most on the spot: the solidarity between the people, between the Poles and the Ukrainians but also all these Belgians, these Frenchmen who took their leave and who came to help, spontaneously, from outside all associations. I have seen isolated volunteers join forces to help refugees. This impressed and reassured me. “
Currently, the flow of refugees has decreased significantly. There are around 300 people on site at any one time. According to Marjorie Boyer, many return to Ukraine.
But as long as there are people on the spot, the Solidarnosc firefighters will keep their operations, they plan to stay at least until mid-June.
It works in collaboration with another association “Action santé femme” which offers consultations with a gynecologist and a midwife in a prefabricated building, installed next to the showers.
In recent days, two convoys have departed from Alzonne to Aude, the seat of the federation: two trucks loaded with medical equipment, blankets and sleeping bags are headed for the Przemysl camp.
The total cost of this solidarity operation exceeded the 50,000 euro threshold. The association operates thanks to donations from individuals but also from local communities in the various regions where it has a delegation.