Foster refugees thriving with love, support from American parents


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SALT LAKE CITY — It is one of the most vulnerable populations in our country: refugees under the age of 18 who fled to the U.S. without their parents. Over 70 of those children now call Utah home. Here, the foster refugees are thriving with the love and support of their American parents.

Laura and Tim Giles of Utah are foster parents to two boys from Eritrea, a country in the horn of Africa bordered by Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti. Sixteen-year-old Salih and 18-year-old Anwet fled the violence in Eritrea but had to leave their parents behind.

”They have families who love them and they had to leave their families and so we just wanted to become an American family to them,” Laura Giles said.

Through an interpreter, Anwet tells us that they miss their home and families, but he says, ”human rights are not protected. There is no freedom in Eritrea.”

Conditions in the Ethiopian refugee camp where Anwet was tortured were just as frightening. ”It’s tough to hear the stories,” Tim Giles said.

Late last year, both boys landed in Utah. They spoke no English, were alone and in search of love and support when they found the Giles.

I asked Anwet and Salih how it felt to find a loving family here in Utah? Anwet replied saying, ”God actually sent this family for us.” The Giles were happy to open their home to these boys.

”No matter where you are in the world, kids are kids and they enjoy having a good time, they want to be loved and I think those are sort of the two things we try to provide,” Tim Giles said.

It’s obvious there is a lot of love and laughter in the home. The boys are also learning English. But for now, Laura Giles says that ”even though there is a language barrier with us, you can totally know their personalities.”

Laura Giles describes Anwet as ”a little more serious-minded, very mature, very responsible, very helpful and kind.” Meanwhile, she says, ”Salih is very fun-loving; he’s a jokester.”


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