Dear CAIR Oklahoma friends and family,

The goal of refugee resettlement is always for refugees to, at some point, stop being refugees and be part of the larger community. When we opened our Refugee Services Department in the fall of 2021 to support our 1,800 new Afghan neighbors through their journeys, we knew that someday, they would cease to be “Afghan refugees” and be incorporated into our beloved Okie Muslim family. Although the needs were significant in the beginning, we received significant grant funding as well as an outpouring of love from our Oklahoma community, who provided goods, donations, services, and love to these newest friends.

We are proud to say that now, not quite three years since we began welcoming our new friends into our beautiful state, our Afghan friends are integrating wonderfully into the broader Oklahoma family. They are our neighbors, coworkers, students, teachers, and friends. We see them walking our neighborhoods, working at local businesses, attending schools and universities across the state. When they need help, they know where to turn: their Okie Muslim community has their back.

With that said, the time has come to close down the Refugee Services chapter of the CAIR Oklahoma story. Our Afghan friends, as well as other Muslim newcomers, are being served well by a growing body of experts in refugee resettlement. Many of them no longer need the special support that we have provided over the past three years. They are self-sufficient, proud members of a vibrant community, without any distinction between them and the broader Okie Muslim family. We will be phasing out our Refugee Services department and folding their work into our preexisting department programming beginning in July 2024, and sadly, we will be saying goodbye to the department’s staff: Refugee Services Coordinator Jen Hund and Health Equity Coordinator Ruslan Ahasan.

We are incredibly proud of what our Refugee Services department has accomplished. Jen Hund developed relationships with a wide range of interfaith, nonprofit, professional, advocacy, military, service, and educational groups to meet the complex needs of this growing community. She built strong, lasting relationships with the influx of new supporters, donors, and volunteers who reached out to help during this time, creating a network of allies and partners who will remain friends of the organization throughout this transition period and beyond. From donation drives that provided school supplies, diapers, and winter gear, to volunteer projects that brought new faces into our network and put smiles on the faces of our Afghan friends, Jen was the heart of welcome and acceptance for the fledgling Afghan-Okie community.

Since his hire in the fall of 2022 following a grant award from the Oklahoma Department of Health, Ruslan Ahasan has been an invaluable team member in his role as Health Equity Coordinator. Because our Afghan neighbors often came to us with significant health needs, as well as in the midst of a global pandemic, Ruslan’s role in connecting patients with the care options in Oklahoma City became vital to the Refugee Services department. Not only were we able to connect patients with supportive medical, dental, and mental healthcare, but we also fostered projects such as COVID-19 mitigation, vaccine drives, and “family walking days” that encouraged participants to take steps, literally and metaphorically, in support of their overall health through education, advocacy, and community-building.

Jen and Ruslan have been beloved and valuable members of the CAIR Oklahoma team. Now, it’s time for them to take steps on their own journeys and serve the community in different roles. However, we know that no matter where Jen and Ruslan find themselves, they will always be part of the CAIR Oklahoma family, and we look forward to seeing them progress in their brilliant careers.

If you’d like to send your well wishes to Jen and Ruslan, their emails will remain active for a period of time past their departure dates, and we will happily forward your words to them. If you’ve been working with either of them on projects, they will touch base to share next steps and new points of contact for that work. We will miss them, but we have no doubt that they will shine in their new roles as they have shined with us in the past three years.

Thank you for walking on this journey with the CAIR Oklahoma team and always having our back when we go through challenging times. We are constantly reminded of the strength of our beautiful Okie Muslim community, and we can’t wait to look into the future to see what’s next for the CAIR Oklahoma family.

The CAIR Oklahoma team