Volunteers needed to help refugees in Utah

Save Story

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY -- There are more than 25,000 refugees from 15 countries now trying to make a life here in Utah, and most of them face steep hurdles like learning to read, learning to speak another language and learning new skills to find a job.

On Monday the Utah Refugee Coalition called on Utahns to volunteer to help refugees acclimate to their new homes. Many have been forced to leave their homes because of civil conflict, war and extreme brutality.

"We came here for peace, because nothing can compare with the peace in your life," said Nahla, a Kurdish refugee from Iraq.

Pourya, a refugee from Iran, told us, "I left my home because I couldn't study. I couldn't get any job with the government. I wasn't free."

Nahla and Pourya, along with many others are the new faces of Utah -- faces filled with hope for a brighter future.

"Everything is free; like, you can say everything here. You can do anything," Pourya said.

But for some, they first need to know how to do some of the things we take for granted, like running water, cooking and taking a bath. With only basic assistance from the U.S. government, these refugees are on their own.

"Meet a refugee, get to know them, befriend them. That is by far the best thing you can do," said Gerald Brown, director of Utah Refugee Services. "It's more important than money. It's more important than guest welcome baskets. It's more important than Subs for Santa."

That's because so many come here with no family, no friends and no support. It's exactly why the Salt Lake County mayor says these refugees need your help.

"I think a lot of people in Salt Lake County don't recognize the fact that we have thousands of refugees who live in our community. And in order to make them part of the community, we need people to volunteer. We need people to open up their homes and help," said Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon.

This Saturday is World Refugee Day, and events are going on all week leading up to it. The Utah Refugee Coalition is asking for volunteers from the corporate community, local colleges and even high schools. To find out how you can get involved, visit refugee.utah.gov/volunteer/opportunities.html.

E-mail: lprichard@ksl.com

Related links

Related stories

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics

Lori Prichard


    Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast