January 10, 2023

Passing On the Power to Stand: Hanifa's Story

Native to Afghanistan, Hanifa came to Salt Lake City through Catholic Community Services’ Refugee Resettlement program in 2016. 

Since then, she has worked tirelessly to build a life that she loves.  

After arriving in Utah, Hanifa worked a myriad of jobs as a seamstress. Though each job was better than the last, the hours were long, and the shifts were late. When she was tired, she used her goals as motivation. 

“I would think ‘Someday I’ll have my own business. I’m going to stand up on my own two feet.’ I believed I could grow from the beginning,” Hanifa said. 

And she’s done just that.  

Five years ago, with the assistance of a match grant program, Hanifa bought three industrial sewing machines and started her business. She now operates it on top of her full-time job doing alterations for a local clothing company. 

Hanifa’s business mainly works with companies that place large orders for things like bags. The size of these orders allows Hanifa to provide jobs for 26 other Afghan women who were resettled as refugees in Utah. 

When a company places a large order with Hanifa, she prepares the fabric, thread, and other materials for delivery to the homes of the women who work for her. For Hanifa, it’s important to provide the women with a source of income that’s accessible from their homes. 

Her motivation is simple—to see other women grow and prosper.  

“That’s why I have my business,” Hanifa said. “I want to show my family and all of the women here, and in my country, that if they give us the chance to grow, we can grow.” 

Hanifa remembers how inspired she was by her Case Manager from Catholic Community Services when they first met in 2016.  

“I promised myself, five years from now, I want to be like her,” Hanifa said. “She is a strong woman. She gave me more power to stand.” 

Six years later, Hanifa is passing along that inspiration to the women in her community, and her own daughter. Her advice to them is to simply remember one thing. 

“We are not only women,” Hanifa said. “We are human too. In my country, women are only women. They are not human. But here, we are equal. We have rights. We have freedom.” 

Like it is for many, Hanifa’s journey hasn’t been easy. But it has been worth it. 

“Here, I have my business. I have my freedom. I have everything,” Hanifa said. 


Learn more about how Catholic Community Services is serving those resettled in Utah here.