ALL NEWS

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: 

We want to hear from you.

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

Today’s Top Stories

All News

A 31-year-old man was taken into custody Wednesday in connection to a bank robbery earlier in the d...
Mark Jones

Bank robbery suspect taken into custody by Salt Lake City police

A 31-year-old man was taken into custody Wednesday in connection to a bank robbery earlier in the day.
21 hours ago
Utah 2022 legislative session...
Lindsay Aerts

Count My Vote threatens ballot initiative to protect signature path to primary ballot if new bill passes

SALT LAKE CITY — A new war is brewing over signature gathering.  The citizens initiative group that ushered in Utah’s decade-old compromise creating a dual path for candidates to get on the primary election ballot — which includes signature gathering, the caucus convention system or both — is threatening to launch a statewide ballot initiative […]
21 hours ago
Brigham City Police need help in locating a missing  14-year-old endangered boy....
Waverly Golden

Brigham City Police seeking help in locating missing teenager

Brigham City Police need help in locating a missing  14-year-old endangered boy. 
21 hours ago
wallet...
Elizabeth Weiler

Utahns found wallet in a wall from 1970, looking to reunite with owner

After a local restoration company was called to remediate an emergency, they began tearing down walls, leading to a wallet found in the insulation. 
21 hours ago
#twitterdown twitter badges shown...
Samantha Herrera

#TwitterDown trends earlier as users experienced difficulties posting

Users across the word are reporting an error code that claims their account has reached the daily limit for tweeting.
21 hours ago
george santos is pictured amongst other lawmakers, he and romney have been exchanging harsh words...
Samantha Herrera

GOP on GOP: Romney scolds Santos, ‘You don’t belong here’

Santos' presence at the center aisle to see and be seen with the arrivals was met with a stern rebuke from a fellow Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

This article about skijoring is sponsored by the Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. Participate in Skijoring the Bear on February 20th, 2023.  What is skijoring? Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and […]
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...
Macey's

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...
Macey's

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...
Sorenson

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