Cedar Rapids' Afghan Community, 18 Months on

March 1, 2023
12:00 PM

The Public Policy Center is proud to support this lecture hosted by the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC).

In December 2021, the ICFRC began a program series called Refugees and Immigrants in Iowa. To begin, we focused on "Resettling Afghan Refugees in Iowa," with speakers Mak Suceska and Sara Zejnic. These speakers explained the complicated process of refugee resettlement and the early efforts to welcome and support Afghans to the U.S. and to our state. Today, 18 months after the fall of Kabul, Saadat Ahmadi from Catholic Charities of Dubuque in Cedar Rapids will discuss how the Afghan community in Cedar Rapids has been doing in eastern Iowa, sharing their challenges and their joys, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future. Attendees will learn how they can support their Afghan neighbors and the agencies in Iowa serving Iowa's newest residents.

Saadat Ahmadi is an interpreter/resource navigator with the Catholic charities of Archdioceses of Dubuque (CCAD) in Cedar Rapids helping fellow resettled Afghans with language barriers and introducing them to available resources in the community. Saadat was born and raised in Afghanistan and after graduating from high school, joined the Afghan Airforce. He has a diploma from the Afghan Airforce university (Academy) and was a Lieutenant and helicopter pilot for the Afghan Airforce (AAF). Saadat had his flight school and flights in the Slovak Republic in H-269 and MD530 helicopters. In October 2021, after the fall of the Afghan government, Saadat was evacuated from the Slovak Republic to the U.S. and was granted Parole status under the operation allies refuge (OAR) program, and in the winter of 2021, he was resettled in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he continues to live. Saadat always had a passion of helping and assisting people, and this inspired him to start working with Catholic Charities in Cedar Rapids. Saadat is now part of the Immigration Legal Services team helping Afghans with their different immigration matters and helping them seek lawful permanent residency in the U.S.

Zainab Afghan is the Afghan Program Specialist at YPN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She and her family came to the U.S. in August 2021 after the fall of Afghanistan. Her family's life in the U.S. started in Wisconsin, but after a long journey, they finally settled in Cedar Rapids in February 2022. Shortly after, Zainab started her first job at YPN in March 2022 where she assists families in their transitions to life in the U.S., connects them to resources in the community, interprets for home visits and group classes, and works as a support for Afghan mothers navigating parenting in the U.S. She has also collaborated with Catherine McCauley Center, as they provide many classes and support for the Afghan Community.

This event is free and open to the public; participants must register prior to attending.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Connie Sherman at connie-sherman@uiowa.edu.