Bellwether International Stories of Resilience #3
HOPE: Bellwether Supports Plans for Hazara Community Center in 2023
In August of 2021, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan spurred a new wave of refugees entering the United States to escape persecution. One community of refugees seeking safety are the Hazaras, an ethnic group whose majority follow Shi’a Islam. As of July 2022, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reported that more than 25,000 Hazaras have been displaced as a result of the Taliban’s military activities. As a result of displacement, instability, and violence, many Hazara refugees have come to the United States.
After the new wave of migration since 2021, the Hazara community in Salt Lake City is over 300 and growing. For the last twenty years, Hazaras have sought refuge and religious freedom in Utah due to its resemblance to their ancestral land Hazarajat in Afghanistan. Despite growing numbers and challenges navigating the complexities of the U.S. immigration system, many members of the Hazara community resettled in Utah have shared that the difficulties don’t stop once they’re on U.S. soil. In particular, refugees have noted that they feel disconnected from social programs and other members of their cultural and religious community:
“Remembering where we came from is important.”
– Hazara community member, who arrived in Utah in 2014
In light of this need, Bellwether is proud to partner with the Utah Hazara Association to design and build a new community center for Hazaras in Salt Lake and the surrounding areas. In addition to providing a space for community members to come together in both celebration and mourning, the community center will also provide a bridge for the Hazara community to utilize social services such as mental health counseling, English language classes, and food access.
The major tenets of the community center will be to operate in order to meet the immediate and long term needs of its members, from cultural and religious observation, to religious observances, to educational and professional opportunities. By working alongside the Utah Hazara Association, this project demonstrates Bellwether’s commitment to supporting locally-led initiatives and working to build change from the bottom up.
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