A refugee center in Twin Falls has endured many months of anti-immigrant hostility -- and emerged stronger as a result. View Article
Mohammad Mustafa, a former translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, came to Twin Falls with his wife. He works part-time at the local Chobani yogurt plant while she learns English at the refugee center.
(Photos by David Kidd)
The refugee center's director, Zeze Rwasama, with some of the donations that have poured in.
Rena Garibyan, who heads the English instruction programs at the refugee center, can be exacting in the classroom. “I am from in Iran – no good!” she tells a student. “I am from Iran.” But Garibyan, a refugee herself, knows she usually only has eight months to teach her students English.
Tricia Brown, who lives on a potato farm half an hour outside of Twin Falls, teaches English at the refugee center. She started volunteering there, in part, because of encouragement she received from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
A Congolese woman speaks to a refugee center caseworker through an interpreter on the phone. She accepted an invitation from a local family to join them for Easter dinner.
Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs says anti-refugee groups got key facts wrong about a sexual assault case because they wanted to make the crime an “international incident.” “This little group in Twin Falls just decided that this case would be an effective way for them to piggyback their issue on a current event,” he says.
Liyah Babayan and her family came to Twin Falls in the early 1990s after fleeing persecution in Azerbaijan. She now operates a consignment dress shop on Main Avenue and serves on the local school board.
Albanian refugees Afrim and Fatushe Hetemi (against the wall) have operated Bumpin’ Bernie’s in downtown for a decade. Their menu includes standard American fare and Eastern European specialties.
Twin Falls Mayor Shawn Barigar tried to “fight fear with facts,” often without success.
High school sophomore Kaleb Gourley led his Eagle Scout service project at the refugee center and later shared his experiences with the Twin Falls City Council.