Impact Stories

On the road to Desbele’s dreams

A refugee family moved to Missoula from Eritrea, Africa. Thanks to the credit union, they had the help they needed.

On average, it takes a refugee two years to resettle — that’s two years of waiting and wondering what’s next. Here’s how we helped Desbele and his family make themselves at home.

Desbele, meet Missoula

Desbele Tekle and his family came to Missoula from Eritrea, Africa, in May of 2017 during the magic of a Montana springtime. His sister and her family came too, and they all quickly grew to love the mountains, the people, and the “long-running river.”

A promising start

Staff from International Rescue Committee (IRC) Missoula met the family at the airport and brought them to their new home. After settling in, Desbele and his wife Samrawit attended our “Understanding the U.S. Banking System” class for refugees, which IRC Missoula and Clearwater Credit Union created together.

This class teaches families like Desbele’s how to write a check, use an ATM machine and debit card, and understand the difference between a savings account and checking account, with trainings offered in Arabic, Swahili and Tigrinya through on-site interpreters from IRC Missoula.

The family needed a car

Some challenges of resettlement are distinct, like language and culture. Others are universal. In a family of six, everyone has different schedules. Desbele’s children (ages 5, 8, 13 and 15) go to daycare, elementary school, middle school and high school. Any parent will tell you that four kids in four schools (plus after-school activities) will make transportation tricky.

Clearly, they needed a vehicle.

Desbele went to a dealership first, where he tried to navigate a car purchase with a $500 credit card in hand. When that didn’t work, he called a friend (our translator for this interview), and together they went to our credit union. Because of the banking classes he had taken, Desbele knew we would be able and willing to help with his first major purchase here.

With a loan from the credit union, Desbele was able to purchase a minivan. Now he can run errands and transport his entire family to church and school.

He can also get work. Back in Eritrea, Desbele was a midwife. Now, because of the car, he can make the commute to the Village Health and Rehabilitation Center, where he’s now employed. Desbele is thrilled to be working again in the medical field.

So happy getting a loan because otherwise, it would take a very long time to get money to get a car, which would distort our plans. This opportunity allows us to dream.

— Desbele Tekle

Dreams can come true

With his family all together, a reliable set of wheels, and help from the local credit union, Desbele and his family are finding their place here in Missoula — a place where their dreams can come true.

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