Will Utah Help Fund Refugee Services?

February 5, 2008

Author: Deborah Bulkeley

Source: Desert Morning News


Elham Makedeh's 1 1/2-year-old son, Parsa Seysan, cheerfully waved fliers as Makedeh's eyes explored the newly renovated Capitol rotunda.

The refugees from Iran, persecuted because of their Baha'i faith, have been in Utah just seven months. They were among about 40 refugees who toured the Capitol recently with International Refugee Committee, one of Utah's two refugee resettlement agencies.

"It's so amazing to see how people love me, how people accept me," Makedeh said in Farsi through an interpreter. "I'm proud to be part of the community. It's not so easy to go to parliament in Iran."

Nazanin Nourmohammadi, a case manager for International Rescue Committee and an Iranian refugee herself, said it's fitting that refugees should visit the Capitol to experience open government.

"Coming here is an experience," she said. "They're welcome."

The visit comes as lawmakers are considering whether to add state funding to Utah's refugee services, and a state-managed nonprofit agency is under consideration.