Afghan Refugees Find Fresh Start with Rochester Regional Health

After working with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Folad and Sayed were able to come over to the United States on special visas. Building a new life is a challenge – one that they welcome.

Nov. 22, 2022 4   min read

During the war in Afghanistan, some Afghan people supported the U.S. military – working directly with them as translators or in other roles. As the war ended, and finally when the Americans withdrew from the country, those Afghans found themselves in danger. Many came to the United States for safety, and some came right here to Rochester.

Folad Shaheed arrived in Rochester in several years ago. Sayed Ebrahim Sadat came just this year. With their previous medical experience in Afghanistan, both joined Rochester Regional Health. 

A new start

After moving to Rochester with his wife and son in 2015, Folad found a job in radiology with Rochester Regional before moving to patient access in early 2020. He was working in the emergency department at Rochester General Hospital, registering patients and handling charts, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sayed was a pharmacist in Afghanistan, then went on to work as a guard for the U.S. Embassy. He was evacuated when American troops pulled out of the country and was ultimately brought to Rochester.

“I came [here] with World Relief Organization,” Sayed said. “Because I told them I had a job before in Afghanistan as a pharmacy tech…I applied for a job [at Rochester Regional Health].”

Sayed also works in patient access at Rochester General Hospital, commuting on a bus for 90 minutes one way to continue working in healthcare.

Holly Jarrell, the Patient Access Manager at Rochester General Hospital who works with both Folad and Sayed, said their determination is astonishing.

“I knew that it would be a positive experience. They just want to better themselves,” Holly said. “This is where it’s going to start.”

Striving for more

As hard as they are working already, Folad and Sayed continue to strive to learn more. Folad is enrolled part-time as a student at RIT to further his medical education and Sayed plans to pursue a nursing degree. Both men do their best to support each other at work – and outside of work.

“I help him with everything that he asks me for,” Folad said. “I have experiences not only at work, but in the outside world that he’s in right now.”

“My life is changed,” Sayed said. “I am feeling better, but I wish I could do more important things for my kids and my family and the people of Rochester.”

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