"We truly felt like we made a difference by collaborating with Soft Landing to help newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers to overcome their language barriers"
Missoula, a small town in Montana, has a big-hearted community. During the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015, Montana was one of only 2 American states that did not participate in refugee resettlement. To change this, a group of Missoulians came together to take action. They collaborated with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to open a Montana-based resettlement office to serve forced displacement populations, including refugees and asylees. This led to the formation of an organization called Soft Landing Missoula in 2016 to welcome, support, and empower new arrivals in Montana. Heather Molloy, a Missoulian with a passion for humanitarian work, volunteered at Soft Landing during her free time. She helped paint the walls and prepare the office for its grand opening. After the inauguration of the resettlement office, Heather worked closely with refugees, assisting them in their transition to a new home. While volunteering, she discovered that she was passionate about supporting, communicating, and connecting with refugees. In 2020, Heather joined Soft Landing as their Resource Center Coordinator, a fulfilling role that allows her to be inspired and heartened by the refugees she meets every day. Heather believes that the ability to communicate with others is one of the most vital aspects of life. Communication forms relationships, brings understanding and builds trust. Realizing that refugees face significant communication barriers in their new communities, Heather started using Tarjimly to communicate with refugees who didn't speak English and required interpretation. As someone who regularly assists with resettlement, Heather supports forcibly displaced people of various backgrounds, many of whom require linguistic support. For instance, she worked closely with a Burmese woman who had recently moved to Missoula for asylum. Upon arriving in her new community, the Burmese woman felt voiceless and lonely due to language barriers. Unable to communicate with others in her new community, she was emotionally isolated. However, with the Tarjimly app's assistance, Heather enabled her to overcome her linguistic challenges. Access to an on-demand volunteer interpreter allowed Heather and the Burmese woman to communicate seamlessly. Tarjimly gave the Burmese woman a platform to speak in her mother tongue and thus made her feel heard and understood. Heather continues to work closely with Tarjimly volunteers to eliminate language barriers for refugees and alleviate the emotional hardship of being unable to communicate. By providing a platform for new arrivals to communicate with resettlement staff using an on-demand interpreter effectively, Tarjimly has been instrumental in Soft Landing Missoula's commitment to creating environments where refugees feel safe, secure, and able to receive equitable services.