Originally, he was simply a mathematics teacher in Lyon. François Bompard now has “a second job”. For nearly a year, he has been the president of the association. Convoys to Hope which he created to help Ukrainians. Twenty volunteers are mobilizing to send trucks with medical equipment to the Ukrainian border every six weeks. An activity that takes him [sa] whole life,” as his wife would say. “And I will continue as long as necessary,” he says. When you’ve seen what’s going on there, you can’t go home and sit quietly on your couch like nothing’s happened. »
In one year, the association sent hundreds of tons of medical equipment, food, basic necessities and also brought 500 refugees back to the Lyon region. “At the beginning, we left every week. It was very easy to get donations, there was a lot of generosity from all sides, from companies and individuals, ”recalls this teacher.
Then, “it became complicated”. From May, “the media landscape has changed, generosity with it, the number of humanitarian convoys has been divided by 10”, he underlines. The presidential election has become the center of attention and the war in Ukraine has gradually “melted under other news”. “Perhaps the military situation on the ground has evolved, but what is certain is that the situation of the people has not evolved,” exclaims the founder of the association.
“The war is not over”
To continue to mobilize, François Bompard, and the twenty still active volunteers, carry out communication actions, raise funds and invest in digital tools. “Today it is difficult to make people understand that the war is not over, that Ukrainians still need help and that there are people who are dying because they have no medical care,” he breathes.
The last convoy left on January 27 with, in addition to medical equipment, wood-burning stoves and generators for orphanages and the pediatric hospital in Lviv. The objective of the next shipment, scheduled for March 10, is to deliver an ambulance that will serve as an emergency medical center for eastern Ukraine, in particular the Kramatorsk region. In contact with the Ukrainian hospitals, it is the medical representatives who update the list of needs and who come to collect the donations in Zamość.
Still “urgent” needs
“We especially need financial support. In particular, for transport because the humanitarian sector is also affected by the explosion in the price of gasoline. But also to buy the ambulances, develops the member of the association. It costs 17,000 euros. For medical equipment, we recover unsold items from pharmacies and hospitals give us what they no longer use. We never really had a lack or difficulty in obtaining it. And Ukrainians are not picky about it. When we have nothing, we are not in a position to be. »
The teacher recalls that “needs are always urgent”. He explains: “In the east, towns are bombed every day, there are daily deaths. Over the past year, almost the entire population of eastern Ukraine has moved west. Today, cities have practically doubled in terms of inhabitants with a health system that was already in bad shape before the war. Since then, hospitals have less equipment and have to manage twice as many people. In addition, the power stations are mostly out of service, with one to two hours of electricity per day, of course, it’s complicated. Not to mention that in winter, it is down to minus 17°C. “.
“They die and we do flash mobs”
Finally, the “sad fact” that it is the anniversary of the Russian invasion also helps to highlight what is happening there. He then hopes for “a renewed mobilization”, especially with communities. “It is not normal that humanitarian aid relies on volunteers. We contacted all the municipalities in the Lyon region, we received no positive feedback. These town halls must take up the subject and act”, challenges François Bompard.
Before adding: “Them [les Ukrainiens], they die and we, the answer we give them are press releases and flash mobs. That’s fine, but that’s not the issue. That the municipalities express their solidarity and that they condemn what is happening, okay. But now, it has to be matched with concrete actions. Our moral support there, they don’t care. That’s not what will allow them to put something in their pot in the evening or to have enough to heat themselves or take care of themselves. »
This is also what prompted him to act from the first bombings in Ukraine. “I felt helpless watching TV. I said to myself that it was only 2,000 km away and that I could try to do something”. He assures: “Once you’ve been there, it’s not difficult to stay motivated to help. »