Seven-year-old Hser Nay Moo came to Utah with her family as a refugee from a camp in Thailand.
The girl was "very bright, very happy," said Aden Batar, director of resettlement for Catholic Community Services. She arrived in Utah with her family last August, he said.
Her family was among thousands of Karen, a Myanmar ethnic minority, who were resettled to the United States after living in refugee camps for up to a decade, said Batar.
Batar said the little girl's disappearance brought many in Utah's small Myanmar community out to help in the search that ended tragically late Tuesday with the discovery of her body.
So far, about 500 Myanmar refugees have arrived in Utah, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Moo's family is among a small cluster living in a South Salt Lake complex.
More than a million Myanmar people have fled their homes for economic and political reasons, according to the U.S. Department of State. The department reports numerous human rights violations documented in Myanmar, which it calls Burma, as well as displacement of ethnic minorities, including the Karen and Chin, which Batar said make up much of Utah's new refugee population.
Patrick Poulin, director of the office of resettlement at International Refugee Services, said the extended length of time the Myanmar refugees spend in camps is somewhat unique.
"The Burmese we've been receiving are very gentle and very motivated to work," Poulin said. "It has been a very interesting population to work with."
Batar says the new arrivals face the same challenges as any refugees they don't speak the language, there are cultural differences, and they have to learn new life skills, such as how to live in an apartment or attend school.
Until Moo's disappearance, Batar said, her family was doing well. The Asian Association had recently taken over the family's services after their initial six-month resettlement period."The family was doing OK," Batar said. "The father was working, all the kids were going to school. The mother had just had a new baby."
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