Refugee says welcome your new neighbor without demanding the backstory

Sep 9, 2021, 7:03 PM
first afghan refugee arrives at utah airport...
Case manager Abakar, left, with Azim, the first Afghan refugee to arrive in Utah, at Salt Lake City International Airport. Photo: Catholic Community Services of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — You are a refugee and are new to the United States. Yesterday you just came here from a war-torn country and you have no family, no friends, no insurance, etc. How do you get the help you need? A refugee and social worker in Utah gives her advice for getting to know your new refugee neighbor.

Fallout of 20-year war

More than 7 out of 10 Americans support resettling Afghans who worked with the U.S. government or military, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll

Between 2001 and July 2021, the United States admitted nearly 21,000 Afghan refugees.

President Joe Biden said the United States would evacuate 50,000 to 65,000 Afghan allies before an Aug. 31 deadline for U.S. withdrawal, according to Reuters.

Fear of the unknown

As many as 1 in 3 refugees experience high rates of depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Institute.

What are Afghan refugees who have recently fled their country dealing with, beyond the headlines we have all seen?

“Many refugees haven’t traveled away from their own home country or been on a plane, which can be a fear in itself,” said Yasaman Keshavar, who was a refugee and is now a Social Worker with Huntsman Mental Health.

She joins the KSL NewsRadio to talk about the mental stress refugees go through.

First, they have to leave family behind.

Language is one of the biggest barriers that refugees struggle with. They don’t know English; the older refugees can’t learn how to speak it in public schools, Keshavar said.

Find help for a refugee here: The International Catholic Migration Commission.

Don’t ask a refugee to explain why they are here, please?

In hindsight, what are some of the things you wish Utahns would have done for you when you arrived as a refugee? Also, what are the best ways to reach out and help a refugee?

Keshavar said her experience resettling in Utah was positive. Everyone around her made her feel welcome and accepted in her new country. But, she added, not all refugees experience that and many feel judged.

She said asking a refugee why they are here in this state or country traumatizes them. They have to retell their stories over and over — sometimes on a daily basis.

“I would encourage everyone to be open-minded and just go and try to get to know them without having any sort of assumptions or judgments, and wanting to just hear their stories as much as that refugee is willing to share,” Keshavar said.

She recommended looking on the experience as an exciting challenge and opportunity to know other cultures, languages and different foods — and make a friend, too.


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

Multiple dollar bills are pictured, social security will see a bump...
Mark Jones

Eyeing retirement: How much money is enough after you leave a job?

How do you know when it's time to leave a job or if you'll have enough for retirement? Dave and Dujanovic talk to a financial planner about this important question.
3 days ago
interest rate...
Curt Gresseth

Interest rate ticks up. Time to tame your debt.

The chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com joins the show to talk about the rising interest rate and how you can get out from under the debt you have accumulated.
3 days ago
One of the topics being discussed during the 2023 Utah Legislative Session is how to combat the tea...
Mark Jones

Bill would allow individuals to become teachers without a bachelor’s degree

A bill being discussed on in the legislative session would allow for individuals to become teachers without obtaining a bachelor's degree.
4 days ago
The main reason small businesses fail in America is that the business owner doesn't have access to ...
Simone Seikaly

Lack of access stands between Black-owned businesses and success

But lack of access to money isn't the only thing that hinders Black-owned business in Utah and across the nation.
4 days ago
More Americans are struggling to pay their energy bills.  Nearly 1.5 million more U.S. households ...
Curt Gresseth

Cost of heating homes in Utah rising as thermometer sinks

The cost of heating a home in Utah is rising because demand has increased and the drought in the West has cut into production.
4 days ago
A bill that could make its way to the Utah legislature in the 2023 session would require school dis...
Mark Jones

Potential redesign of new Utah State Flag emphasizes Native American tribes

Sen. Dan McCay (R-Riverton) is sponsoring a bill that would call for a slight redesign of the new Utah State Flag.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Refugee says welcome your new neighbor without demanding the backstory