DAVE & DUJANOVIC

Murray family donates house to Afghan refugees new to Utah

Dec 17, 2021, 3:41 PM
Afghan refugees...
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) speaks with attendees at an announcement of the Afghan Community Fund for the benefit of incoming Afghan refugees at the State Capitol Building on October 19, 2021 (Nick Wyatt, KSL NewsRadio)
(Nick Wyatt, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — To help Afghan refugees new to Utah, residents are pitching in and donating new clothing, pots and pans, forks and spoons, but an entire house?

A Murray family responded to the call for help by the Catholic Community Services by donating a home for Afghan refugees who arrived after the fall of Kabul in August.

Eric tells the story of welcoming the refugees to their new home in Utah with KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic.

Debbie Dujanovic spoke earlier with Aden Batar, director of Migration and Refugee Services with Catholic Community Services, which said Salt Lake City is one of 19 cities across the United States receiving Afghan refugees.

Residents are donating clothing and kitchen utensils, Debbie said, but they have to be new items because of COVID-19. What Catholic Community Services needs are housing units.

“The landlords out there listening, I would encourage them to call us so that we can rent the units that they have,” Batar said. “I know there’s a lot of new housing being built in our communities. We can use those housings to move these families as soon as they arrive.”

Son out, Afghan refugees in

Eric said he was renting a home to his son and his roommates who had all graduated from the University of Utah.

Eric said he told his son: “Look, you either have to find some new roommates or you’ve got to move out.”

His son had found no new roommates. At the same time, Kabul fell to the Taliban, so Eric said to his son:

“I think I’m gonna donate the home to the refugees for a while.”

Not long after, the Afghan family, Mom and Dad and six children, moved into Eric’s house.

Learning English is step one

“So what’s it been like?” Dave asked.

Eric said communication has been difficult, except for the 12-year-old who is already enrolled at a junior high school in Murray.

“He’s picked up English so fast, it’s incredible. It’s been a wonderful experience,” Eric said.

“Does living in Utah confuse them?” Debbie asked.

“The culture shock is pretty severe,” Eric said. “For this family in particular, it’s going to be a while before they work as their English skills are so far away from being employable.”

He added all the children who are old enough are enrolled in school. The parents are taking ESL (English as a Second Language) classes.

“Their kids are helping them learn English. They’ve made a bunch of new friends from Kabul that are over here that are helping them with English. So their English has come along,” Eric said.

For deeper conversations with the family, translators who worked with the US military in Afghanistan have visited the home.

Here’s how you can help Afghan refugees new to Utah needing help: Catholic Community Services.

Related:

Utah residents are rushing to serve refugees arriving from Afghanistan

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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