IRC Celebrates 20 Years of Helping Refugees in Charlottesville
Charlottesville is home to refugees from all over the world, and now the city’s International Rescue Committee is celebrating 20 years of helping them.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville is home to refugees from all over the world, and now the city’s International Rescue Committee is celebrating 20 years of helping them.
The IRC has worked with refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo to those living in Afghanistan. With the help of the IRC, Dragana Katalina-Sun left behind everything in Bosnia to move to Charlottesville nearly 20 years ago.
“I was so nervous and scared along the way,” Katalina-Sun said.
The IRC helped Dragana find a home, a school for her children, and even start her own business.
“IRC played an amazing role in our adjustment and feeling welcome,” Katalina-Sun said. “Providing resources necessary for us to be self-employed…it was just like taking anxiety away along the way.”
Now, the IRC is celebrating nearly 4,000 refugees like Dragana who call Charlottesville home.
“I run into [refugees] frequently throughout town still and whenever I do, they’re always so grateful and talk to me about how their lives have been remarkably happy in a way they didn’t know could be possible,” said IRC founding director Susan Donovan Cathcart.
Resources from the committee helped Dragana grow her business, Marco and Luca Dumplings. Now, she wants to give back.
“Me being refugee and coming as a refugee to this wonderful country just makes me feel so grateful that I get a chance so many didn’t,” Dragana said.
Those who work on the committee say seeing success stories like Dragana’s makes all of the work worth it.
“Seeing them come here and learn our culture and succeed and advance in their careers and contribute back to the community is just a really wonderful thing,” said IRC Charlottesville director Harriet Kuhr.
The IRC Resettlement Program continues to progress and credits its community partnerships for the success.