When in 2014, Igor migrated to France, his family in Ukraine supported his great expectations. He would probably find work in the area and be able to send money, money for a better life. No one expected to see him again until a year later he appeared on television in a call to witnesses.
Igor has trouble walking and is blind on one side. He lives in Antwerp, in a center for homeless people. He seems confused. Engaging in a normal conversation with him is not easy. He says he comes from Ukraine but has no papers with him that can prove these claims.
Thanks to the help of Thomas, a collaborator of Caritas International, and a map of the country, Igor managed to identify his region of origin in Ukraine, and soon Thomas called Caritas Ukraine for help. The latter published a call to witness on national television and via social media.
Igor is recognized by his son and his wife calls Caritas and says…
Serious Work Injury
Igor worked in France and had regular contact with his family. Everything seemed to be going fine until a serious accident at work took place. After that, Igor seemed confused on the phone. Bizarre. His wife and son are very worried. He is alone and so far away…
The family decided to go to France and bring Igor back to Ukraine, but after having arrived in France, Igor disappeared. He did not go to the hospital where he had been followed for weeks. Nobody knows where he is. The family must resign themselves to return to Ukraine, hoping soon to hear from him. A hope that turns into fear, a fear of never finding him.
Thanks to Caritas, Igor was able to find his family. Despite his confused look, Igor continued saying that he lived in Ukraine. He spoke constantly of Lviv, a large city in the west of the country and about 100 km from his home. He would go on foot, he said, “always straight along the E17.”
On 25 April 2016, Igor returned to Ukraine. He was accompanied by Thomas with whom he has – in the meantime – built trusting relationships. At the airport in Lviv, a whole delegation is waiting for him: his wife, his brother, his nephew, his son, and Caritas Ukraine. The meeting is difficult: Igor only recognizes his brother. The family – prepared for this eventuality – has great difficulty assimilating to this new reality: the healthy Igor they left in 2014 is no longer the same.
Home in the countryside
After his return, Igor is greeted by his wife in their country home. Day after day, his memory improves: he recognizes neighbors, childhood friends, his wife, and finally his son.
Today, Igor is recognized as disabled and receives a small allowance from the state while his wife and son work. With the money from the reintegration budget, received with the support of Caritas International, the family pays for medical care: Igor’s eye was operated on and has now recovered its sight. As he can no longer work, the family has also invested in tools for agriculture so that Igor can – on a small scale – grow vegetables.
Because of his confused state, Igor’s life is limited to the countryside, safer (he cannot get lost, the whole village knows him) and allows a little physical work in the garden. Step by step, slowly but surely, his situation improves.