Afghan Health Research Program
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Rohullah Amin, MD, Director, Afghan International Mental Health.

Born and raised in Afghanistan, and educated at Kabul Medical University, Dr. Rohullah Amin is a psychiatrist and currently a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University receiving additional expert training to serve his research work in Afghanistan. Director of VIRTIS’ international service in Afghanistan, Dr. Amin will be conducting transnational research on mental health with several universities in US and Central Asia.




Arzoo Abdulsattar, BS, Associate Director, Afghan Health Research Program

A former President of the Afghan Student Association at UC Davis, Arzoo is a first generation Afghan-American who was born in Afghanistan and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1998. Since then, she has lived in the East Bay, California. After graduating from high school, she pursued higher education at the University of California, Davis where she graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in June 2013. Aside from being occupied by her studies during her time at UC Davis, Arzoo was also heavily involved in various student organizations, volunteer work and also held internships and biological research positions. Having been heavily influenced by her experiences in Afghanistan and being passionate about the medical field, Arzoo has goals of becoming a healthcare provider in the future. Throughout her time at UC Davis, she has spent countless hours volunteering at student-run clinics like Shifa Community Clinic and Imani Clinic in Sacramento providing free medical care to the underserved populations of Sacramento. During her Junior year, she was nominated a 2012 UC Davis Community Service Award.

In addition to being passionate about the field of healthcare, Arzoo is very close to her heritage and strives to help Afghans in her community. After being actively involved in the Afghan Student Association at UC Davis for four years, she was given the presidency position during her fifth year. During that year, her goal was to foster a sense of culturally identity and unity among the Afghan Students of UC Davis. She instituted new and effective plans and greatly increased the activity and membership of the organization to the highest levels the club had ever seen. In the spring of 2013, she led her board members to host a successful charity banquet for 500 guests which raised thousands of dollars for an organization that helps youth in Afghanistan.

She currently lives with her husband in Fremont, CA pursuing work at a biotech company and preparing for an Physician Assistant program. Aside from working in California, she intends to make frequent visits to Afghanistan in the future where she can use her skills and knowledge as healthcare provider to aid the people of Afghanistan.

Lemah Safi, Intern, Afghan Health Research Program.

After her parents and elder brother were forced to flee a war torn Afghanistan, they sought refuge in New Delhi, India, where Lemah Safi was born and raised. At the age of six, she migrated to the United States with her family in pursuit of a better life and future. Lemah overcame many obstacles in order to achieve her educational goals. She is an avid learner, graduated from high school in 2011 with Honors. Currently she is attending Sacramento City College. In 2014 she will attend California State University, Sacramento. She will be majoring in Health Science with a concentration in Health Care Administration. Her long term career goal is to become Physician Assistant in order to better serve the under privileged communities and the Afghan refugees and immigrants. She is very active within her own Afghan-American community by helping newly arriving refugees. She is focused on collecting and delivering donated household goods and other basic necessities to the needy refugee families. In addition, Lemah is fluent in four languages: Pashto, Farsi, Hindi and English. Driven by her passion to achieve higher academics and compassion to serve others, Lemah is committed to improve the quality of life for many people.

Virangika Perera, Secretary, Afghan Health Research Program.

Virangika is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Davis, pursuing two Bachelors of Art degrees in Psychology and English, and a minor in Middle East/South Asia Studies. Her interest in helping refugees and immigrants stems from her own experience of immigrating from Sri Lanka at the age of eight due to intensifying warfare. She has had experience working with refugees, as an ESL tutor at the International Rescue Committee, Sacramento, as well as other immigrants, in her current work as an English teacher at the International House, Davis. She also has over a hundred hours of research experience working as an intern at the UCD Department of Anthropology, Archaeometry Lab. She is currently working as a research assistant in the VIRTIS Afghan Program, under the guidance of Ms. Robina Gul. She also just received a position as a case management intern for refugee resettlement at Opening Doors, Sacramento. She is bilingual in English and Sinhala, as well as intermediate-level Spanish. Upon graduating, Virangika hopes to pursue a career in social work or immigration, working in either Los Angeles or New York, as well as to work as an English teacher on the side. She also enjoys learning different languages and interacting with peoples of various cultures, ethnicities, and religions. It is immensely important to her to bridge the differences between these communities and help people not only tolerate, but respect, each other. As Secretary of the Afghan Health Program, Virangika assists Director Ruby Gul maintain program's records, minutes, timely communication, and coordination of the flow of activities.

Safina Ahmed, Intern, Afghan Health Research Program

Safina was born and raised in America, her mother is from America and her father is from Pakistan. Being raised in a multicultural family, Safina has firsthand understanding of cultural issues and sensitivities. Safina is a senior at California State University at Sacramento majoring in Psychology. Her long term goal is to attend graduate school majoring in Public Health, with special focus in administration, management and education. By completing her higher education in Public Health, Safina is hoping to make a positive impact on people’s lives by improving their overall health. Even at an early age, Safina has positively impacted and improved the lives of so many people. She has proven her passion and dedication to her community and to other communities. She has tutored school age children, assisting in various subjects such as math, reading and sciences. She is an avid learner and always strives to help others. She has the compassion to reach out to people from multiple ethnicity and cultures. She has made an impact on the lives of under privileged populations. Her extensive volunteer work with SALAM organization is proof that Safina is eager and poised in helping others.
Safina is fluent in several languages, including English, Urdu and Arabic.

Habiba Durrani, MD, Assistant Director, Afghan Health Program

Habiba Durrani received her medical degree from University of Kabul in Afghanistan under the guidance of professors and clinicians from Afghanistan, USA, Europe and Asia, and specialized in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Due to the unrest and sectarian wars in Afghanistan, Dr. Durrani and her family moved to Pakistan in 2003 where she worked at several prestigious hospitals in Peshawar. She has been known for her high achievements and professionalism, and for her compassion care towards patients from a variety of different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. Dr. Durrani opened and operated her own private medical clinic in 2005, performing complex medical procedures as well as guiding and supervising several medical employees and interns. As an Afghan woman, a doctor, and a refugee who has experienced the atrocities of war, Habiba Durrani has a deep compassion for suffering; she reached out to the less fortunate and provided free medical health care to many individuals in her private clinic. Dr. Durrani’s professional goals and aspirations are to complete all her medical certifications in order to practice medicine in United States. She is proficient in several languages: Dari, Pashto, Urdu, and English.

Hamida Durrani, MD, Community Health Educator & Researcher

Dr. Hamida completed her undergraduate in biology and medical degree requirements at University of Kabul in Afghanistan. She received her rigorous and extensive academic and professional training in OB/GYN from various American, European Afghan and Asian professors and doctors. Together with her sister Dr. Habiba Durrani and their family, Dr. Hamida relocated to Peshawar Pakistan due to unrest and wars in Afghanistan. She is ambitious, talented, and strives to make a difference in peoples’ lives, especially in the under privileged women. She received special training and certifications from the government in order to be eligible to operate her own private clinic where she practiced medicine for over seven years. In spring 2013 Dr. Hamida and her family arrived to the United States as refugees. Dr. Hamida is passionate about learning and her professional goal is to secure her medical license in the United States. Dr. Hamida is an active member of her community; she reaches out to other newly arriving refugees by providing translation services in all the areas of their medical needs. In addition, she is a devoted mentor, health educator, and researcher helping the refugee population to integrate into their new society. Dr. Hamida is fluent in English, Pashto, Dari, and Urdu.

Rangina Totakhal, BS, VIRTIS Research Assistant

Rangina was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and raised in Pakistan and United States. She started her higher academics in Florida and received an Associate Degree from Florida State College (FSC). She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from University of California at Davis (UCD). Compassionate yet with strong leadership skills, and excellent work ethics, Rangina is determined to pursue a medical career. Her aspiration has stemmed from and was nurtured by many years of working as a medical assistant, under the guidance and supervision of a prominent Afghan doctor. In addition, her language fluency in four different languages has prepared her to be a prominent linguistic interpreter in Pashto, Dari/Farsi, English and Urdu both in medical and social matters. Rangina is devoted to improve the lives of newly arriving Afghan refugees and immigrants.

Asila Punjsheri, Intern, Afghan Health Research Program

Three decades of wars and trauma in Afghanistan caused many people to leave behind their homes and move to foreign countries to face many difficult challenges. Tragically, Afghanistan retains its position as the biggest refugee source country in the world, a position it has held for 33 years. On average, one out of every four refugees worldwide is Afghan, with 95% located in Pakistan or Iran. Asila and her family were among these countless people forced to flee Afghanistan. Upon her arrival to the United States she was only ten months old. With the guidance and encouragement of her family Asila has grown into a productive member of society and an extremely dedicated student, studying for her Bachelor’s degree in Psychobiology at University of California, Davis (UCD). Her next academic goal is to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Health. She is keenly devoted to the efforts of the Afghan Student Association (ASA) at UCD, an organization working to promote awareness, tolerance, and peace on issues relating to Afghanistan at UC Davis and surrounding communities. In addition ASA raises money to for different organizations that support the unfortunate orphaned children of Afghanistan. At VIRTIS, Asila is involved in community outreach, health education, and community-based participatory health research.

Yasmin Gul, Intern, Afghan Health Research Program

Yasmin Gul is a second generation Afghan-American, born and raised in the United States. Currently she is an honor roll student at Granite Bay High School, and is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. The IB offers four of the most rigorous academic programmes at select high schools in 145 countries. At an early age, Yasmin had a passion to help others and currently she is considering a career in biology. She has raised hundreds of dollars to purchase school supplies for an underprivileged school in Afghanistan and arranged for the supplies to be sent directly to the school with the assistance of the US military. Currently, she volunteers at organizations that assist women and children suffering from domestic violence. She also tutors high school students in upper level math and English. Yasmin is dedicated to help refugees to integrate and construct new meaningful lives in the US.

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