two Ukrainian refugees hired in the kitchens of a restaurant in Lyon

Oskana and Marina started working at Chez Paul’O at the end of April. In Ukraine, they were both already working in catering trades.

They arrived from Ukraine less than a month ago. If the lives of Oksana and Marina have been turned upside down by the war, they have found refuge in France in a place they know well: the kitchens of a restaurant.

Oksana is a pastry chef, Marina is a cook’s assistant. They were both hired at the end of April at Chez Paul’O, a restaurant in Solaize, in the metropolis of Lyon.

“Impossible to forget the war”

Although the language barrier is sometimes an obstacle with the rest of the team, Oksana and Marina support each other, smiling at each other from one end of the kitchen to the other while peeling vegetables.

Despite everything, the most difficult thing for them is above all to be far from their families.

“It is impossible to forget the war”, confides Marina, moved. “She is still with us. We have many relatives in Ukraine, and we care every day.”

In less than a month, Oksana and Marina have found their place in the kitchens of Chez Paul’O. “I love working here,” Marina tells us. “There is a very good team, friendly relations and mutual aid.”

Supported by the whole team

Benoît Toussaint, the restaurant’s chef, admits that it’s not always easy for his two new recruits. “Emotionally, it’s a bit complicated. Because sometimes they get messages from their families, which make them a little devastated, and all they can think about is that.”

But the team is always present to help the two women adapt to life in France, far from their families.

“Keeping them busy at work, and being in a team like ours which is a bit young, which is quite laid back, that definitely helps them.”

Even if Oksana and Marina hope to be able to return home as soon as possible and see their families again, Benoît Toussaint is delighted with his new employees. “They work really well, they are very brave.”

He is already ready to renew their contracts, which end in September, if the situation in Ukraine does not improve by then.

Laurent Canonico and Laurene Rocheteau

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