PHOENIX — The Sheraton Phoenix Downtown recently hired more than 40 refugees from Afghanistan. Friday, the hotel hosted a lunch to celebrate Nowruz, the start of spring and the new year in Afghanistan.
"We wanted to celebrate their culture and make them feel welcome and learn a little bit about what they celebrate at home," said Erin Flothmeier, market director of human resources at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown.
The hotel hired a translator and added a prayer room.
"The majority are in housekeeping or dishwashing because of their language skills. Many of them come from much more complex jobs than that back home but they don't speak English yet. But we have a general accountant, we have two people in purchasing. We have people in our restaurant, in our kitchen," she said.
Mustafa is one of the newest housekeepers at the hotel. He worked as a translator for the US military in Afghanistan. During the US withdrawl in August, he was able to get a special immigrant visa. He, his wife, and their 14-month-old son arrived in Arizona in early September.
"Right now I'm proud of myself that I'm keeping all areas clean, you know," he said. "Everyone is happy, they're just doing their job and they're earning their money."
Aziz Urrahman Safi, a hotel accountant, had to leave Afghanistan without his wife and six kids.
"I'm trying to find a way to bring them here, they're still escaping. The only thing which I can help them right now is I send them money," he said.
Mustafa said he's grateful to be safe and provide a new life for his son. But he misses his home and his family.
"All the time, when I see--especially sometimes play with my kid, it reminds me of my own parents you know? I say I wish they were in here," said Mustafa.