A celebration was recently held in Mission to mark the one-year anniversary of 14 refugees coming to the community from the Congo. Some of the kids are pictured here at a previous event.

Refugees celebrate one year in new homeland

Fourteen travellers arrived in Mission from the Congo

A year ago, on a dark, cold and rainy night, a group of 14 refugees who had fled political persecution in the Congo arrived at their new homes in Mission.

The travellers, while all related, make up three family units.

They endured a 26-hour series of flights and arrived to find a welcoming committee that had been working for half a year to provide them with safe, cozy homes in their new homeland.

Three churches in Mission had stepped up to become private sponsors, in partnership with the federal government.

Four other churches committed financial support and dozens of community groups and private citizens added their assistance.

Now, a year later, eight of the children are attending school and three of the adult men have full-time jobs.

There have also been part-time opportunities for the other school-age sons, and the women have found ways to contribute to the family income with opportunities that have been offered to them.

They have discovered new foods, are taking classes to learn a new language, and have survived the worst winter weather in decades.

A celebration of the one-year anniversary was held at Cedar Valley Mennonite Church in March with a luncheon and the presentation of a used seven-passenger van that was donated by Pioneer Motors.

Other donations from the community have also been generous, including clothing, food, household furnishings and recreational opportunities.

Cedar Valley raised more money than was necessary for the basic needs of the newcomers and will be using the excess to purchase driving lessons.