Read part 1 of Flavia’s Road to Resettlement.

Mukasa Agnes Flavia arrived in the United States as a refugee in May 2019. Her first year was marked by numerous challenges to overcome, and a global pandemic that made integrating into her new community increasingly difficult. “Those times were not easy. I had to wake up every morning and go to work, stand for hours, come home and be a teacher to my three kids under the age of eight,” Flavia reflected. Though faced with the “world heavy rain,” a term Flavia used to describe the pandemic, she was able to find power in facing these challenges and in the people around her who help her move forward. 

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City supported Flavia through her transition to life in the U.S. As a refugee resettlement agency, the IRC in Salt Lake City is tasked with supplying resources and support to our newest neighbors, including introducing families to the culture and life in Utah. For Flavia, everything felt new. “When we come here, we are like newborns who are just learning how to walk, the IRC helps us walk slowly until we are stable enough to walk around without their support,” Flavia commented.

Through 20 different programs, the IRC supports refugee families, like Flavia’s, to access education, address health concerns, achieve financial self-sufficiency through employment, and achieve ambitious milestones along the way. Even recently, Flavia worked with the IRC’s financial capabilities program to complete a matched savings goal to buy a vehicle for her family. It was a life-changing accomplishment. She can drive her kids to school and make it to work on her own.

Slowly, Flavia became hopeful that Utah would become her new nyumbani or pamoja, in Swahili her new “home” or “community,” respectively. One distinct memory stood out to Flavia as a joyful reminder of how welcoming her new community was: in 2019, she received holiday gifts through IRC’s Light One Candle effort. It was incredible to see a community of strangers, who didn’t know Flavia or her family, provide resources so generously. “My heart was filled with joy, not because of the gifts we received, but because I knew that there are people who love and care about refugees,” said Flavia.

Through her resettlement process, Flavia learned the importance of giving the gift of gentleness when meeting a new person because you never know what their journey has looked like. For refugees, the first year means facing ongoing language barriers in English, though they may speak multiple other languages. Many refugees miss opportunities such as work or education because of the language barriers they face, which has a ripple effect to accessing other resources. For others who did not have access to a laptop or other forms of technology, digital literacy is a barrier to overcome to ensure self-sufficiency in a world that demands digital connection.

As Flavia continues to deepen her connection to Utah, she has also found opportunities to combat racism, xenophobia and other systemic issues in American society. “The work is far from finished and we all have a role to play. There are things we can do as individuals, but we can also call on our decision-makers to put in place policies and programs to bring lasting change to our communities. There are so many actions taking place against racism and discrimination,” Flavia said.

Flavia at her home.
“When we come here, we are like newborns who are just learning how to walk, the IRC helps us walk slowly until we are stable enough to walk around without their support."
Photo: Flavia

Flavia’s road to resettlement is not over. In 2021, Flavia applied for higher-paying jobs and began working full-time at one of Utah’s financial institutions. She stands today as a mother, a professional, a friend, and an advocate for refugees and immigrants. Although she has now been in the U.S. for over four years, she still has challenges she works to overcome. Flavia has taken each storm that she has gone through and turned it into something beautiful. She has been able to reflect on her journey so far and is grateful for strong women who she can call “friend.”

The International Rescue Committee supports over 2,000 refugees like Flavia each year. Just like her, many arrive to Utah with ambitious hopes and dreams for themselves and their families. They strive to build community through friendship and work hard to build a better life in our community. Learn how you can support the work of the IRC in Salt Lake City and the families we serve by visiting

Learn more about Flavia’s story in her interview with Story Corps.