Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Bhutanese refugees Ghana, left, and Parmile Dulal are newcomers to the Salt Lake area. They spent 18 years living in plastic-covered sheds but now share a Rose Park apartment with their two children.

After spending 18 years as a refugee, living in plastic-covered sheds at camps in Nepal, Ghana Dulal, 38, finally has a home for his family.

"We were frustrated in the camps," says Dulal. "It's really miserable."

Now Dulal and his wife, Parmile, live with their two children in a modest, two-bedroom Rose Park apartment.

The Dulals are among the first of a new wave of incoming Bhutanese refugees. They're among more than 100,000 descendants of migrants from Nepal who were expelled from their homes nearly two decades ago.

The Dulals are also among more than 19,000 refugees from around the globe who now call Utah home. On Saturday, Utah's refugees showcase their cultures at a World Refugee Day celebration.

The event at Granite High School starts with a soccer tournament. Then, from 4 to 8 p.m., refugees can learn more about community services that are available.

They'll also be sharing their arts, food, dances and traditions with the broader community.

"We would love to see more people from the neighborhood and community," said Irina Pierpont, a festival organizer. "It is accessible to everyone."

Daniel Watt, chairman of the event's planning committee, said it is a great time for everyone in the community to learn more about refugees. It's also an opportunity to recruit volunteers to help families such as the Dulals.

The Dulals have been in Salt Lake for just over a month. So far, they say, they've received a lot of support from everyone they've met.

However, like most refugees, they're on a tight time-frame. They have six months to become established and support themselves. They're working toward that and have received resettlement agency help in areas such as job searching and learning how to use the bus system.

"I'm ready to start," Ghana Dulal says of any job available. "We have applied to get technical training. (Parmile) is interested in health care."

Helping refugees become self-sufficient is the goal of both of Utah's resettlement agencies — International Rescue Committee and Catholic Community Services, Watt said. Key to that goal is mentoring, he said, and for that volunteers are critical.

"If a case manager has 35 active cases to work with, they don't have the time," he said. "That's where a mentor is so helpful — a friend to show (refugees) how to use an appliance, how to go grocery shopping. That's such a big deal."


If you go . . .

What: World Refugee Day — A free community celebration of the music and cultures of Utah's refugees.

When: Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m. (soccer tournament 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Where: Granite High School, 3305 S. 500 East


E-mail: [email protected]