|Bank Missoula Federal Credit Union|
|Client Desbele Tekle|
|Location Missoula, Montana|
The average time it takes a refugee to be resettled is two years—that is two years of waiting and wondering what is next. What dreams are ahead? 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.”
When Desbele and his family arrived, staff from International Rescue Committee (IRC) Missoula greeted them at the airport and brought them to their new home. After the family settled in, Desbele and his wife, Samrawit, attended Missoula Federal Credit Union’s Understanding the U.S. Banking System class for refugees, which IRC Missoula and MFCU 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. IRC Missoula and MFCU organize these training sessions in Arabic, Swahili and Tigrinya with the use of IRC Missoula’s on-staff interpreters.
Some of the challenges of resettlement are unique (language, culture), and some of the challenges are universal. As a family of six, everyone has unique schedules—Desbele’s children are 15, 13, 8 and 5, which means high school, middle school, elementary and daycare. Any Missoula family will tell you that four kids in four different schools (as well as after-school activities such as soccer, basketball and volleyball) will present transportation issues.
It quickly became clear the family needed a vehicle. Desbele first went to a dealership to try to navigate a car purchase with a $500 credit card in hand. When that didn’t work, he called a friend (who was our translator for this interview), and they went together to MFCU. Because of the banking classes he had taken, Desbele knew MFCU would be able and willing to help guide this first major purchase.
With a loan from MFCU, Desbele was able to purchase a minivan to meet his family’s needs. He can now transport his entire family at once. The exception being when they go to church, he makes two trips so he can pick up his sister and her family as well. The van is a lifeline to their faith, family, and future.
Both Desbele and his wife work, and the car has allowed them to move into jobs better suited for their talents. Back in Eritrea, Desbele was a midwife. Now, because of the car, he is able to work at the Village Health and Rehabilitation Center. He is thrilled to be working again in the medical field. In his own words, Desbele explains he is, “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.”
They are settling in, finding their place here in Missoula, and are safely nestled in the valley. With his family all together, a reliable set of wheels, and help from the local credit union, Desbele’s dreams can come true.