Salt Lake City — Next week the first wave of Afghan refugees could be arriving in Utah.
In order to make that transition as seamless as possible, organizations are busy gathering donations and other items.
Catholic Community Services of Utah released an Amazon Wish List, asking Utahns to help welcome the influx of people.
A class of more than a dozen people learned about public speaking at the Utah Refugee Center Wednesday evening.
The 18-week leadership course aims to help refugees learn skills to help them succeed at work and in their communities. The group is made up of people from countries like Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Iraq.
According to State of Utah Refugee Services Office Director Asha Parekh, the course not only help build skills for success, it also helps build a community of support.
“One of the great things that happen, is I think they talk about challenges and issues in their community and learn that many of these communities have very similar challenges,” she shared. “So they become resources for each other through that process.”
The Utah Refugee Center is about to get a whole lot busier, as they prepare for exactly 765 Afghan refugees to arrive in Utah.
According to Parekh, it is still not sure how many will land in Salt Lake City at one time, but her understanding is that they’ll arrive in a 6-month-or-so window that begins in October.
“We’re hopeful that they don’t all arrive at once,” Parekh said, with a chuckle. “And we anticipate that they will start arriving in the next week or so.”
Catholic Community Services of Utah is one of the organizations busily preparing for individuals and families who will call Utah home.
The Amazon Wish List released Wednesday includes items like car seats, microwaves, pots and pans, silverware, rice cookers, bedding, towels, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and diapers.
Parekh said the state is looking at setting up one, easy way for the public to make a donation.
According to Parekh, the Utah Refugee Center will be offering its classes and training once the new group is settled in. This includes ESL classes, job training, computer training, and digital literacy classes.
It’s all part of building success and support for the hundreds about to call Utah, home.
Parekh indicated that Utahns have been eager to jump in and help.
“Just being very grateful, for the generosity of people in Utah,” she expressed, “and appreciative that they’re willing to reach out and want to help refugees, and especially this group.”