SALT LAKE CITY – The first wave of Afghan refugees could arrive in Utah next week, and organizations are busy collecting donations and other items to help make this transition as smooth as possible.
Catholic Community Services of Utah posted on Wednesday an Amazon wishlist, ask the Utahns to help accommodate the influx of people.
At the Utah Refugee Center Wednesday night, a class of more than a dozen people learned to speak in public.
The 18-week leadership course, which Refugee Services says is run in partnership with Salt Lake Community College and American Express, aims to help refugees develop skills to help them succeed on the job and in their communities. .
The group is made up of people from countries like Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Iraq.
Not only does the course help develop the skills needed to be successful, but Utah State Refugee Services Office Director Asha Parekh said it is helping build a supportive community.
“One of the great things that is happening is that I think they are talking about the challenges and issues in their community and learning that a lot of these communities have very similar challenges,” she shared. “So they become resources for each other through this process.”
The Utah Refugee Center is set to get a lot busier, as it prepares to welcome exactly 765 Afghan refugees to Utah.
To read – Afghan refugees could arrive in Utah in a few weeks
Parekh doesn’t know how many of them will land in Salt Lake City at a time, but she understands they’ll arrive in a roughly 6-month window that begins in October.
“We hope they don’t all come at the same time,” Parekh said, with a chuckle. “And we expect them to start arriving next week or so.”
Parekh explained that the influx will create a challenge, which is why a state task force is working with several community organizations and partners to bring together resources and expertise.
Read – Organizations coordinating resources for Afghan refugees arriving in Utah
Catholic Community Services of Utah is one of the organizations actively preparing for the individuals and families who will call Utah home. Amazon’s wishlist released on Wednesday includes items such as car seats, microwaves, pots and pans, silverware, rice cookers, bedding, towels, products. cleaning supplies, toiletries and diapers.
The state, Parekh said, is planning to set up an easy way for the public to donate. She said they plan to have more information on this in the coming weeks.
Parekh added that the Utah Refugee Center will offer its classes and training once the new group is installed. This includes English as a second language courses, vocational training, computer training and digital literacy courses.
It’s all part of the success and support of the hundreds of people who are about to call Utah their home.
The Utahns were eager to step in and help, Parekh said.
“I’m just so grateful for the generosity of the people of Utah,” she said, “and grateful that they are ready to reach out and help the refugees, and especially this group.”
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