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How to help Afghan refugees coming to Iowa

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

The logistics of setting Afghan refugees up in Iowa. And what It's a Wonderful Life can teach us about history and representations of Iowa.

Following the United States pullout from Afghanistan, thousands of Afghans await new lives outside of the native country they fled. Some are settling in Iowa. And that's no easy process.

Intensive background checks, COVID-19 tests and vaccinations are all required before being cleared to travel to Iowa, according to Mak Sućeska of the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services based in Des Moines. But arrival in a town like Des Moines or Cedar Rapids isn't the end of the road.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Sućeska and an organization involved in helping families settle in the state about how they approach creating a sustainable situation for refugees.

Last, we hear from Leo Landis of the State Historical Society of Iowa about a lecture he is co-leading. In honor of the 75th anniversary of It's a Wonderful Life," Landis and Christopher Wilson of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History will lead an online presentation drawing lines between culture in the early 20th century and the classic movie.


  • Mak Sućeska, bureau chief of the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services
  • Erin Bell, coordinator at Des Moines Refugee Support
  • Leo Landis, state curator at the State Historical Society of Iowa
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa