Refugees celebrate first Thanksgiving

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Many Utahns gathered around the table to share a meal and give thanks on this special holiday. Among them was a Utah family spending their first Thanksgiving in America.

A Thanksgiving turkey was part of their holiday meal, but Raghad Safah also included side dishes of lamb and rice. Though the menu reflects their Iraqi traditions, the importance of this American holiday certainly resonates with the Safah family.

Safah said, "I'm thankful for my kids and my husband, of course. We are thankful for health and thankful for America, in fact, because we are here."

They escaped war violence and religious differences of Iraq and spent three years as refugees in Syria.

"When I entered Syria, I was relieved and I will not worry about anything, about my husband or my children, but of course here is better than Syria," she said.

In June, they were resettled in Utah with the help of Catholic Community Services. Now the family is trying to make new lives. Raghad is attending the community college while her husband works to support the family.

"Everything is surprising here because everything is totally different from Iraq and Syria," she said.

But she says the children have quickly developed a liking for hamburgers and the school bus.

There are thousands of refugee families living in Utah. Catholic Community Services needs Utah families willing to help or even befriend new families.



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Nadine Wimmer


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