Springfield – JFS is pleased to present a series of seven online Afghan Cultural Orientation sessions for community providers. Join us as we learn together the best practices to use with our new Afghan neighbors. Each session will be targeted to specific providers, including Mental & Behavioral Health, General Physical Health, Maternal & Early Childhood Health, Primary Education, Secondary Education, Social Services & Emergency Response, and Community Engagement.

The goal of these programs is to provide expanded understanding of Afghan cultures, motivations and family structures to practitioners working with new Afghan neighbors. A nuanced understanding of the Afghans’ experiences, cultures and beliefs will equip practitioners with tools to assist their successful resettlement and integration.


Zala Ahmad: founder of HOLD, an Afghan NGO, has over 15 years of experience working in the field of international development, with a focus on education, human rights, and economic development. In 2021 Zala co-founded Safe Path Prosperity, a social enterprise in Afghanistan, employing women in Kabul to sustainably produce washable menstrual hygiene products and educational materials for local distribution. Zala has operated in some of the most remote and precarious areas of rural Afghanistan. Zala earned a M.A. in International Economics and Finance from Brandeis University. She is a Research Associate in the Department of Geography at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Rachel Lehr: earned her PhD in linguistics from the University of Chicago writing a descriptive grammar of Pashto, a minority language spoken in eastern Afghanistan. For more than 25 years Lehr’s work has addressed the languages and cultures of central and south Asia, while living and working in the region. In 2000 Lehr helped found the non-profit Rubia, to develop economic opportunities through craft heritage for Afghan women and their families. Lehr has been awarded Fulbright Fellowships in Tajikistan and Norway. She is a Research Associate in the Department Geography at University of Colorado-Boulder. Dr. Lehr has over 20 years of experience in adult education and curriculum development.

Each of the programs below will have an introduction to Afghan culture especially tailored to the practitioners/providers specific needs.  In general, the focus will be on gender roles and relations, family dynamics, time orientation, communication styles, etc. Part of the program will be spent in conversation with the participants regarding their experiences, challenges, success, and concerns. A follow-up Q&A session will be scheduled after each program to address questions and discuss strategies with the participants.

Sessions will be held virtually on Zoom, with a Q&A follow up session a week later.


Registration is required. VIEW FLYER HERE.

For more information and to register, contact Massara Almafrachi at m.almafrachi@jfswm.org, or call 413.737.2601.