© 2024 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A former Afghan military major channels heartbreak into hope for fellow evacuees in Iowa

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

A former military intelligence commander for Afghanistan forces is now helping fellow Afghans who resettled in Iowa after Taliban rule overtook their home nation.

Thirty-year-old Shir Safi escaped following the U.S. military's withdrawal from Afghanistan in August of 2021. He enrolled in the Afghan Armed Forces when he was only 16 years old and worked in close partnership for many years with American forces. He reached the rank of major before the collapse of the U.S.-supported Afghan government.

He now lives in Des Moines and with the help of non-profit organization Des Moines Refugee Support he has dedicated his life to helping other Afghan evacuees, founding his own non-profit, Afghan Partners in Iowa. He is also studying at the John Dee Bright College at Drake University.

Since U.S. troops pulled out of Afghanistan, 76,000 evacuees have come to the United States. Safi is one of about 700 Afghans who have settled in Des Moines, and he fears deportation back to Afghanistan and execution by the Taliban if congressional action isn't taken.

Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with him and Erin Bell of Des Moines Refugee Support. The organization is hosting its biggest annual giving event, Santa’s Ride, this Saturday. The event distributes winter gear, hygiene products and gifts to hundreds of refugee families living in the metro area. The organization is seeking volunteers for the event.


  • Shir Safi, executive director of Afghan Partners in Iowa 
  • Erin Bell, coordinator, Des Moines Refugee Support
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Natalie Dunlap is a rising junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and minoring in gender, women's & sexuality studies. She is from Iowa City and in her free time enjoys getting coffee and reading downtown with friends.