Their Story Is Our Story (TSOS) is witnessing with alarm and concern the news and images from Afghanistan in recent days. We have developed a deep respect for our Afghan friends in the past 5 years as we have sat knee to knee and eye to eye with them and listened to their stories. We have been honored to share their accounts of survival, as they have fled death and violence, leaving family and possessions behind to seek peace and freedom elsewhere. Their stories are examples of strength, resilience and gratitude.
Now, as the militaries of western nations retreat, all Afghan citizens — those actively engaged in an effort to reform their country and those who do not support Taliban regime — find themselves and their families in grave danger. The future they have worked so long and hard for, and risk so much for, is vanishing before their eyes.
As fellow world citizens, now is time for action. We have a narrow window of opportunity to assist these brave men, women and children, as they embark on hard journey to safety. Here are a few ways you can support them:
Contact your elected representatives and urge them to act swiftly to remove those at risk from harm’s way and offer them a new home in a safe nation.
Find refugee resettlement agencies in your area who will soon be resettling Afghan refugees and volunteer your time and means to assist in their safe arrival and integration.
Listen to refugees and amplify their voices in your communities, media outlets, and in the halls of power by sharing their stories.
Their Story is Our Story stands with those suffering in Afghanistan. As we witness the clogged airport runways in Kabul we seek to clear the runways in our own communities and welcome our Afghan brothers and sisters as our new neighbors and friends.
The Emerald Project is a Utah-based organization that carefully designs dialogues to engage with non-Muslims to make Salt Lake Valley a more welcoming home to Muslims. As many of our refugee friends belong to the Muslim faith, we applaud opportunities that foster understanding and were pleased to support The Emerald Project’s 3rd annual “Slam the Islamophobia” event on February 15th.
Refugees often risk their lives crossing deserts, jungles, and oceans all in the search for shelter, freedom, or happiness. Yet, even once they’ve reached physical safety, mental mountains emerge that make daily life an uphill climb. At the November 2022 conference for the Utah Chapter of the Society for Public Health Education (USOPHE), presenters Shurooq Al Jewari and Sasha Sloan discussed mental health and inclusion, focusing on immigrants and refugees.
Holidays are an important time to include newcomers. Newcomers are often aching for the traditions and holiday magic they knew at home - and the connections with family and friends. The Garcias* came from a strong family and community that knew generous and giving holiday traditions. I knew, when I met our new friends from Venezuela, the rich bond we would have; this was a kindred spirit family. Even though we have been bad at communicating (Google Translate is such a false hope), it was easy to find connections that helped us love each other.