I’m Fatima Baher, the president and founder of “Afghan and Middle Eastern Women of Utah,” a non-profit organization.
I came to Utah 12 years ago with my family. We spent the first 3 days of our arrival to Utah to sleep. We would wake up at night, and sleep in the morning. We did not leave our house for 3 days because we were nervous to talk to people, and afraid of getting lost outside. When our caseworker came to our house she took us to show us the nearest grocery store. We were too nervous to enter the store because we didn’t know what to do. Our caseworker told us “ go inside don’t be afraid. “ That made me think she went through the same feelings when she first moved to US, because she knew how it feels.
Thankfully, in a few days some Afghan families found out about us and started to visit. We were very happy to find someone who spoke our language. The Afghan families started informing us about laws and how things works here. Being the only person who spoke a little English in my family made me feel responsible for protecting and taking care of my family. I started to translate mail word by word just to be able to separate junk mail from the important ones. I became the voice and advocate for my family. In few months I learned a lot of English and the Afghan families who’ve been here for years started to rely on me to help them with their issues. Regardless of my own life situation: taking care of my own family, getting married, going to school and work, I didn’t stop helping the Afghan community.
2 years ago, an Afghan lady asked me to help her by asking her caseworker to provide her with a phone. The caseworker refused to talk to me because I was nobody. I told my dad how upset I was about the situation, and he told me “how about you open your own organization, so you can help others officially?” This is how my organization started. My mission is to empower refugee women to be self-sufficient and achieve both financial independence and gain self esteem.
I want tell you a story about a volunteer who took upon herself to take care of a refugee family. She would help read mail, taught others to drive, took the family hiking to different places, taught them skiing, and she made the refugee family feel as if they were part of her own family. She made them feel welcomed; she made them feel home. By doing so the volunteer did not only donate her time to this refugee family, but she gave them hope. She gave them life. She made them dare to live.
Now, this refugee family enjoy their lives to the fullest. They have a purpose to work, to learn- a purpose to enjoy life.
Now, I’m asking you please volunteer and give a refugee family a purpose to live. And that’s how you can help refugees.
Monetary donations can be used to support the mission and operation of “Afghan and Middle Eastern Women of Utah” nonprofit organization would be greatly appreciated.