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Mike DeBernardo, KSL TV

Refugee families in SLC get their first taste of Thanksgiving

By Ashley Moser, KSL TV  |  Posted Nov 21st, 2017 @ 10:35pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Five families from around the globe who now call Utah home were given the true Thanksgiving experience at St. Ambrose Catholic Church Tuesday night.

Thanks to Catholic Community Services and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, dozens of refugees got to try a very American meal.

“Mashed potatoes and gravy is so good,” said Maryam Almashhadani, a refugee from Iraq. “I can’t describe why I like it so much. It is just so good.”

Almashhadani and her family came to the United States in January after fleeing their home country.

“Iraq is dangerous. There are always bombing and it is not safe for my family,” Muntaha Almashhadani, Maryam’s mother, said.

Although it has been hard to adjust, Muntaha Almashhadani is trying to help her children feel at home in Utah. She said trying new things, especially American traditions, is important to her, which is why the family joined the Thanksgiving party.

"I wanted to see what did they do. The people, what did they do (at) Thanksgiving? Because I wanted to see everything here,” Muntaha Almashhadani said.

She said being away from family and friends is difficult, but with parties like these, she feels right at home.

"I see everyone and I can, like, make a friend. And that is good for me,” Maryam Almashhadani said.

Event organizers said the gathering was meant to help assimilate these refugee families into the community.

“When they are new they don't know Thanksgiving, and the spirit of Thanksgiving, so I think this is a way for our Utah communities to serve the refugees and show them that they are loved,” said Aden Batar, the immigration and refugee resettlement director for Catholic Community Services.

The organization strives to create a sense of community for the state’s refugees through events like these, Batar said.

“When you are a refugee, away from your family and in a new country, you feel that you are alone and isolated,” he said. “That is why it is important that our refugees here, during the holidays, don't feel isolated."

Each year, Catholic Community Services resettles 600 refugees to Utah and helps them begin their new lives in the U.S.

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Ashley Moser, KSL TV
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