Afghan women are making history at Ascension St. John

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“Many Employers are missing out on the opportunities that Afghan refugees, especially women, bring to the table.”

A group of Afghan women who now call Tulsa home are taking another courageous step in their long journey. Until now, most of them had never worked in a professional capacity. But, thanks to Ascension St. John Medical Center, they are gainfully employed and graciously being brought into the fold.

Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma welcomed more than 800 Afghan refugees to Tulsa after the fall of Kabul in late 2021. These women were among the thousands of Afghans who crowded the Kabul International Airport, desperately trying to flee the Taliban. Now, almost two years later, they are doing something that is uncommon in Afghanistan…they are working.

Catholic Charities Placement Specialist, Brian Allen, works tirelessly to find solid jobs for our refugees. “As an employment and education specialist, it’s been incredibly fulfilling to see the positive impact that job placement has had on the lives of Afghan refugees, particularly the women,” he says. “They are truly valuable assets to any workplace.”

Several months ago, Allen reached out to TouchPoint Support Services, a contracted housekeeping provider of Ascension St. John, hoping to start a conversation about employment for Afghan women. By the grace of God, his idea was well received.

“We recognize the hard work and dedication of refugees who have gone through the difficult process of settling in a new country,” says Jason Schreppel, Senior Director of Environmental Services. “We are committed to providing them with the opportunity to use their experience and skills at St. John through TouchPoint Support Services.”

Although their skills may not come from traditional work experience, they have qualifications that make them very good hires. Allen says, “Afghan women are a hidden gem in the workforce. Their work ethic and attention to detail make them excellent employees, especially in roles like housekeeping.”

The hospital is invested in making this a positive experience for the women by providing a translator throughout the training process to help the ladies feel comfortable and valued. Translator Nilab Noori says, “I learned English when I was in my country and wanted to work as an interpreter with the American Army in Afghanistan. Now, I think I do more than what is expected of me because I help those who really need my help. When you help someone, this is the most satisfying feeling you can ever have.”

Through the combined efforts of Catholic Charities and Ascension St. John, these women are now taking a big step forward in their journey. “I believe that the future of work lies in diversity and inclusion, and the Afghan women we’ve helped place at Ascension St. John are a shining example of that,” says Allen. “They bring a unique perspective and set of skills to the workforce, and I’m excited to see what they will achieve in the future.”

Currently, Ascension St. John, TouchPoint Support Services and Catholic Charities are discussing expansion of this program because of its successful start. “Our work with St. John has been a testament to the success that can be achieved when Afghan women are given a chance to work and provide for their families. So far, they have exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

Allen encourages all businesses to consider Afghan refugees for their open positions. “Many Employers are missing out on the opportunities that Afghan refugees, especially women, bring to the table,” he says. “They have a wealth of skills and are eager to contribute to their new communities.”

If you have job opportunities for Afghan refugees, contact Brian Allen, Catholic Charities Placement Specialist at or 918-506-1612.

To learn more about Refugee Resettlement, visit