International Rescue Committee (IRC)

From the indoors to the outdoors: Boise Refugee Seniors Enjoy Scenic Train Ride

The sun was shining and the air was fresh as the train pulled out of Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, headed for the riverside town of Banks, a short 20 miles away.  As the old steam locomotive jugged along I could see the smile on Jai Tamang’s  face broaden.  Jai is a senior refugee from Nepal, and was one of 60 senior refugees living in Boise taking part in a scenic train ride event organized by IRC Boise in partnership with the Idaho Office for Refugees.  The event was part of IRC Boise’s ongoing efforts to provide service to its senior refugee community, particularly those who are isolated and home-bound.

After first gathering at IRC Boise’s office the seniors took a bus to Horseshoe Bend before beginning what many visitors to Idaho say is one of their most enduring memories.  Snaking its way along the Payette River, the three hour train ride treated its wide-eyed passengers to breath-taking vistas of Idaho mountains and clear running streams.  Arriving in Banks, population 250, the passengers disembarked for lunch and then a bit of sightseeing, including  watching the parade of kayakers and rafters who daily descend on the sleepy town to enjoy the whitewater thrills of the Payette.  Seeing the delightful looks on everyone’s face as they boarded the bus back to Boise confirmed that we had scored a winning run in relieving the stress and anxiety that challenge our refugees who are homebound and isolated.  The gratitude each one took time to express, some even saying that they had never ridden a train before, renewed our commitment to grow IRC Boise’s senior program and ensure that our elderly refuge population is not forgotten.