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Refugees find New Homes in Utah

Refugees find New Homes in Utah



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Shelley Osterloh ReportingRefugees are an emerging part of the Utah community. Sunday, the Deseret Morning News began a six-part series looking into the challenges refugees face when coming to the United States. Our own Shelley Osterloh looks into this issue.

They are not immigrants, they are not illegal aliens. Refugees come from all over the world at the approval of the US government, escaping dangerous circumstances -- some being forced from their homes due to their race, their social status or their beliefs.

Officials estimate 30 to 50-thousand refugees have resettled here in Utah. One family arrived from Uganda just last week with only a few bags and a hope that Utah will become not only a haven, but a permanent home.

Oliver Stephen, Refugee: “I’ve come because I’ve heard that America is a very good country, offers a lot…a country of opportunity.”

Koffi Djagba is a caseworker for Catholic Community Services. He works with a new family almost every week, often the first friendly face refugees see.

Koffi Djagba: "This is a tough transition coming from the camp and making a new life--this is a western civilization--it is very difficult for them. Especially to get the culture, it is stuff they have to learn.”

Once in the U.S. refugees face the challenge of learning a new language, finding a job and adjusting to a brand new life worlds away. Director of the Asian Association of Utah, Lina Smith, works with hundreds of refugees, helping them gain a sense of belonging.

Lina Smith, Asian Association Director: “They need our help. They need your friendship. They need to have someone to hold their hand and walk them through life here in America.

Dozens of institutions try to help ease the terrifying transition, but thousands still struggle to exist in an already established culture.

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