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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Facebook Post Leads to Helping Ukrainians Flee to France

Facebook Post Leads to Helping Ukrainians Flee to France

Macha Levitin, a Moscow native living in a small medieval village in France’s Burgundy region saw a photo of a man trying to board a train with his dog while fleeing the war in Ukraine. The picture was posted on an Irish setter lovers of the world Facebook group. Levitin was amazed that it seemed out of the question for these people to leave their pets behind while fleeing the war torn areas that were once their home.

She didn’t think she could help the man in the picture, but she wanted to help someone get themselves and their beloved pets out. And so began her mission. Levitin has managed to help several people and dogs from Ukraine find safety in France. Levitin combed the thousands of members of the Irish setter Facebook group, looking for Russian and Ukrainian names.

“I saw Yuri Mazarenko, so for me it was evident he was a Russian-speaking or Ukrainian-speaking person, so I just wrote to him. I said, ‘Hi, my name is Macha. I’m writing to you from France. If you need any help, tell me how I can help you” she said. Mazurenko and his wife, Tanya Grigorieva, were sheltering beside a load-bearing wall in their home in the northern Ukrainian town of Chernihiv when he received the message. His wife had recently suffered a stroke, which made it difficult for her to get down to the bomb shelter.

The couple eventually made it out of Chernihiv, which was surrounded by Russian troops. Grivorieva arrived in France first, in mid-April, and Mazurenko made it over on May 1. Today the couple and their Irish setter Rolly and cat Jan are living with Levitin in this French village. He calls her their guardian angel. Mazurenko is an artist so Levitin helped him set up an exhibit of his paintings in the village’s tourism office. He says his life has taken such an unexpected turn.

Soon Levitin and Mazurenko are joined by Vlada, and her big red setter Iris. She also made it to Semur-en-Auxois by way of Levitin and the Irish setter connection. Vlada said “I’m amazed at everything Macha organized for us. The trip by bus from Warsaw to Paris, then picking us up when we arrived. I came with a suitcase, a dog and a cat. I could never have done this on my own.”

Vlada, who arrived in March, has a new job at a local leather goods manufacturer making high-end handbags. She says that is also thanks to Levitin and her “network.” The irony of being rescued by a Russian is not lost on Vlada or Mazarenko. The animal connection helped them to trust. Both are thankful for Levitin and their dogs bring them calm but what is going on with the war is always just below the surface for them.

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