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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Canadian veteran and Afghan interpreter plead with Ottawa to help families

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Charlotte Greenall, a retired Canadian soldier, and the young Afghan interpreter she hired, Maryam Sahar, both served in Kandahar. Now, they’re pleading with Ottawa to help save Sahar’s family and those of others who assisted in the war effort.

“We cannot leave people behind because this is not the country we are,” Greenall told CTV National News.

“We were given fake promises, especially the women of that country, especially the girls of that country,” Sahar told CTV National News. “Why, why?”

Sahar was just 15 years old when she signed on to help the mission in Afghanistan and was the only local female interpreter for the Canadian Armed Forces. She ignored threats from the Taliban for helping Canada in the hopes of bringing peace to her homeland.

But now, she feels betrayed by Ottawa.

“Why are you making us feel ashamed when we took big pride in doing what we were doing,” Sahar told CTV National News. “You’re literally reinforcing what the Taliban said 20 years ago: Do not co-operate because they will leave and you will stay behind.”

Sahar left Afghanistan in 2011 and is now a Canadian citizen, but she was forced to leave behind her younger brother, who was kidnapped, drugged and tortured by the Taliban.

Greenall, who Sahar now affectionately calls “Mom,” has been fighting to bring the young woman’s brother to Canada for months, long before the chaos now raging in Kabul.

“I’ve done the dance: I’ve cried, I’ve pleaded,” Greenall said. “I’ve told them, from a mother’s standpoint, from a soldier’s standpoint.”

Sahar now fears it might be too late to help.

“I haven’t spoken to my family for four days now,” she said. “I look at my phone every single morning praying that I do not get a message that a family member has been executed because I worked for the mission.”

Both women believe that when the diplomats were taken out of Afghanistan more interpreters and their families should have been taken with them.

“We as a nation, right now, in this moment, have an opportunity to make things right,” Greenall said.

Sahar said Canadians have welcomed her with open arms and that Canada is a generous country. She’s hoping it will represent those values now and get those who helped the Canadian Armed Forces during the mission in Afghanistan to safety. 

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