UTAH

Update: Afghan Community Fund raises more than a million for Utah refugees

Dec 22, 2021, 7:53 AM | Updated: 8:31 am
afghan community fund helps refugees arriving in utah - small boy holds drawing...
Yaser, 9, a new arrival from Afghanistan, shows his artwork to volunteers who have come to visit the hotel where he’s staying with his family in West Valley City on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. Photo: Josh Tilton, KSL Podcasts

SALT LAKE CITY — In an update to a story KSL first reported earlier this month, a special fund created to help Afghan refugees find community in Utah has raised more than a million dollars just two months after its creation. 

Gov. Spencer Cox told the KSL and Deseret News editorial boards Tuesday the Afghan Community Fund collected more than $1.1 million since mid-October, though he acknowledged an unprecedented level of need. 

Overwhelming need faces Afghan Community Fund

According to Cox, Utah’s two refugee resettlement groups have been understandably overwhelmed. In the last three months, they received as many refugees in Utah as in the past couple of years combined. 

“They’ve had to ramp up very quickly, and they’re helping a lot of people in a short amount of time,” Cox said. 

The money helps cover basic needs, as many Afghan refugees arrive in Utah with nothing more than the clothes they wear. Nazifa Rajabi, who came to Utah from Afghanistan 20 years ago, recalled the struggle. 

“It’s hard to build a life here. Right? They’re starting from zero,” she told KSL Podcasts producer Andrea Smardon earlier this month. “There (are) a lot of a needs to run a household.” 

Afghan refugees help ease transition for new arrivals

Members of Utah’s Afghan community, like Rajabi, provide critical support, according to Cox. 

“We’re trying to pair them up in ways that can be very helpful because it is disruptive — even if they didn’t still have families and those issues over there, just going to a new country, new culture is incredibly disruptive and difficult,” Cox said. 

For example, he said, Afghan natives living in Utah can help state officials provide the right kind of food that newly-arriving refugees will need. 

The funding also helps Utah officials bridge the gaps with respect to mental health resources. 

“There are also some cultural pieces of that,” Cox said. “Like a willingness to ask for help, or to seek out those types of services.” 

“The tap just got shut off” 

Cox said in addition to helping meet basic needs, the Afghan Community Fund will help with more complicated needs, such as legal aid for those whose families remain in Afghanistan. 

Utah may fare better than other states because the state boasts two refugee resettlement agencies, Cox added. However, those agencies find themselves playing catch up after years of cutbacks. 

“We’re one of the only states in the nation that has two resettlement agencies. It’s a big deal,” he said. “We were leading the nation when it comes to refugee resettlement and then the tap just got shut off for about four years. And so, they’ve had to ramp up very quickly and they’re helping a lot of people in a short amount of time . . . We’re trying to provide them the resources to help work through that.” 

Learn more about the Afghan Community fund here

Read more: 

Utah

Hatch courthouse...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Utah’s longest serving senator, Orrin Hatch, dies at 88

Orrin Hatch, Utah's longest serving senator, has died at age 88.
2 months ago
Pictured here are items seized from one of four drug busts authorities in Carbon County conducted o...
Mark Jones

Carbon County authorities make significant drug busts

Authorities in Carbon County, with a search warrant, have conducted four drug busts over the past three weeks.
2 months ago
...
Mark Jones

Soap box derby set for Saturday in Daybreak

Daybreak will host the second annual Soap Box Derby on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.
2 months ago
State street traffic sign...
Samantha Herrera

State Street traffic restrictions starting soon

State Street traffic restrictions are slated to start soon and continue into August. Work will impact areas downtown and near the Capitol.
2 months ago
Garth Brooks Salt Lake...
Simone Seikaly

Garth Brooks sells out second Salt Lake concert in 45 minutes

It was the second time in less than a year that Garth Brooks sold that many tickets for a Salt Lake City concert so quickly.
2 months ago
A Smith's recycling bin...
Devin Oldroyd

Recycle single-use plastic at your local Smith’s

In honor of Earth Month, Smith's Food & Drug is encouraging its customers to recycle thin-filter plastic materials at their local stores.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Prescription opioid...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Update: Afghan Community Fund raises more than a million for Utah refugees