With Afghan refugee families arriving almost every month in Beehive State, people and organizations have stepped up to help.
Organizers from two local organizations told people that Afghan families need more than just a warm coat when they arrive.
Believe it or not, spices are important and seen as a lifeline for Afghan refugees coming to Utah.
When Heidi Bradley discovered the importance of spices, she, as the outreach director of the Christian Science Society of Salt Lake City, got to work.
âI proposed this to the church and said it would be great. Let’s get them some spices, and then they said, âWonderful, here’s $ 5,000. Go buy some spices, âshe said.
An Afghan friend helped Bradley with a spice list and soon after, she collected boxes of spices.
Bradley explained that a spice care package for a family can last almost two months. At some point the money and spices will run out and she needs more help with donations.
To donate to the Utah Afghan Spice Project, visit csssocietyslc.org.
Several organizations, including the Utah Muslim Civic League, have gathered resources to quickly respond to the growing needs of refugee families.
Executive Director Luna Banuri said she wanted to see Utahn take the time to gain cultural understanding. For example, when it comes to race and Islamic traditions, people often associate a single nationality with religion.
âI think the general misnomer is that everyone thinks Muslims are Arabs,â she said. âArabs currently make up only about 17% of the Muslim population in the United States (and) 35-40% of the Muslim population in the United States are in fact black Americans. “
There are several more, but it will take time for people to familiarize themselves with the culture.
As the refugees arrive from Afghanistan, Banuri appealed to Utahn for long-term help to refugee families.
âIncoming families need the support of traditional American families. To navigate systems, as we say, âshe said.
The aim is to have local families who will get involved and mentor the families of incoming refugees – helping them to settle down and helping children to enroll in school, women to go through interviews. hiring, or even just knowing where to go and buy underwear.
Many of the basics that many people would normally take for granted are major changes for refugee families.
âI urge everyone not to just focus on food and accommodation right now, but to think long term and say for next year I will be committing to a family. Where we can together take care of each other, âBanuri said.
Financial support will also be essential to help refugee families make the transition to American culture.
To learn more about the Utah Muslim Civic League and how you can help, visit Utah Muslim Civic League Support Page for the Afghan Utah Community.