MISSOULA, Mont. — Missoula’s Soft Landing organization celebrates World Refugee Day as the organization helps welcome and integrate hundreds of refugees.
“Around the world, World Refugee Day represents the strength and resilience of refugee families that have had to leave their homes and find safety other places. We are here once again and have many families that use this day as a way to get together, celebrate, eat some food and play soccer,” said Mary Poole, Soft Landing executive director.
The organization says since 2016 there are 375 refugees living in the Missoula community, and the number has increased in recent years.
The group also says we can anticipate seeing more refugees come in from Ukraine in the next few months.
“With Afghan arrivals and increased global displacement, Missoula has seen the number of refugees we are able to welcome annually increase over the past year,” said Poole.
At the World Refugee Day celebration, soccer was played, international food was eaten and stories were shared.
“This is a very good opportunity for people we don't know, because we are all from different countries, so this is good for communicating and getting to know more other countries,” said volunteer JP Ndiefi.
For the refugee families and individuals at the event, sharing stories and connecting cultures was most important.
“We have a lot to share with our new community, and we come from far from places that were in trouble, but we are here and welcome in Missoula, and it's a good time when we come together with our new community,” said Paul Mwingwa, Montana refugee congress delegate.
Mwingwa says the event is a good way to talk to other people in the refugee community and thank their new community.
“Thanks Missoula and Montana for welcoming us, and to the people who open their door to share the beautiful place with us,” said Mwingwa.
If you missed this event, there are other ways to get involved with Soft Landing and their various programs through their website or by calling 406-493-0504.