With balloons, bubbles, ice cream, and dancing, the IRC in Missoula celebrated three years of resettling refugees. With over 300 refugees resettled in the last few years, Bonner Park was full of partygoers from the Congo, Eritrea, Syria, and Iraq. Refugees who had been resettled in prior years helped newcomers with rides and made introductions for those who had arrived during the summer, or even that day.
Mayor John Engen was on hand for the third year in a row to reaffirm his support for refugee resettlement and celebrate with families new and old. Mayor Engen has been a vocal IRC supporter since 2015 when discussions began about reopening a resettlement office in Missoula. Since then he has continued to support and meet with local IRC staff as well as visitors from other IRC offices around the US. Thank you, Mayor Engen!
After welcoming remarks from the mayor, it was time for food and dancing. Even though the Congolese form the largest group of refugees resettled in Missoula, the highlight of the evening was Hanan Alomar, a star IRC volunteer, getting everyone dancing to Saudi music. She was joined by an enthusiastic group of Congolese teenagers as well as her Iraqi and Syrian friends. After dancing and running with bubble wands, kids swarmed the ice cream truck and tried to wait patiently for treats provided by the IRC, a great way to end the evening.
Thank you to the IRC staff, interns, volunteers, and especially to all of the refugee families for helping us celebrate a successful three years in Missoula!