Update: Progress and Challenges in Rescuing Afghan Interpreters and Veterans

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From the Editor’s Desk, Special Report.

In the aftermath of the fall of Afghanistan, efforts to rescue and support Afghan interpreters, veterans, and their families have been crucial in providing a lifeline to those facing imminent danger and persecution. The tireless work of individuals like CDR Carl Thomas Sullivan and Masae Yonaiyama Sullivan exemplifies the dedication and compassion required to navigate through complex challenges and achieve meaningful outcomes in such critical humanitarian efforts.

Commander Sullivan emerges as the central figure, narrator, and hero in this article, showcasing remarkable dedication to the cause. Let’s delve into the extraordinary efforts that he and a compassionate group of individuals have undertaken—and continue to pursue—on behalf of these unsung heroes.

Recent accomplishments in this ongoing mission highlight both the successes achieved and the ongoing struggles faced by those involved. Among the individuals and families assisted are:

A: Interpreter Family in Kabul (US SIV Visa Applicant)

One interpreter family remains in Kabul, awaiting a US State Department rescue flight. Their journey to safety hinges on swift and decisive action amidst precarious circumstances.

B: Interpreter and Afghan Army Veteran Families in Pakistan

Five families, previously assisted to egress to Pakistan, are now confronting new challenges in their place of refuge. Their safety and security are paramount considerations amidst evolving geopolitical dynamics.

C: Family Affected by Loss

Tragically, one family has suffered the loss of their father, COL Safi, a partner to CDR Carl Thomas Sullivan. Members of this family are currently navigating complex circumstances in Afghanistan and Pakistan, underscoring the deeply personal stakes involved in these rescue efforts.

D: Afghan Army Veteran Families in the US

Two Afghan Army veteran families have successfully reached the United States but continue to require assistance as they transition to new lives and seek to integrate into their new communities.

E: Interpreter Families in France

Two interpreter families have managed to escape to France and are now seeking opportunities for translation work—a testament to the global reach and impact of these efforts.

F: Afghan Human Rights Activist

The support extended to an Afghan human rights activist underscores the broader mission to protect individuals advocating for fundamental freedoms and human dignity.

G: Utah Hazara Community

The Utah Hazara community, representing an Afghan minority group, has received critical support amidst ongoing challenges faced by their community.

On a more focused and sunnier narrative, recent progress includes the successful evacuation of Faiz, an interpreter, and his family, who were able to leave Kabul on a US-sponsored SIV flight to US military facilities in Qatar. Faiz’s passage through the US visa interview process marks a significant milestone, highlighting the collaborative efforts of many individuals and organizations involved in facilitating his journey to safety and freedom.

However, alongside these achievements, setbacks still persist. The complexities of navigating bureaucratic processes, geopolitical realities, and evolving security concerns continue to pose formidable challenges to those engaged in rescue operations. Each setback underscores the urgent need for sustained support and advocacy to safeguard the lives and well-being of Afghan interpreters, veterans, and their families.

Looking ahead, the objectives remain clear: to move those at great risk out of harm’s way, to facilitate opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and new beginnings, and to provide ongoing support to families as they navigate the complexities of resettlement and integration.

As we reflect on the recent accomplishments and challenges faced in these critical humanitarian efforts, we are reminded of the resilience and determination of those involved—their unwavering commitment to uphold the values of compassion, solidarity, and justice in the face of adversity. The path ahead may be fraught with obstacles, but with continued dedication and collective action, we can strive towards a future where safety, dignity, and freedom are accessible to all.

This article acknowledges the invaluable contributions of CDR Carl Thomas Sullivan, Masae Yonaiyama Sullivan, and their collaborators in Rise Beyond Borders, whose unwavering commitment continues to make a profound difference in the lives of Afghan interpreters, veterans, and their families.

In the tumultuous landscape of Afghanistan, where uncertainty looms like a shadow over everyday life, one family’s story of resilience and hope stands out as a testament to the transformative power of human kindness. Meet Faiz, a dedicated interpreter, embarking on a courageous journey towards freedom with his wife and three children.

Faiz’s journey began amidst the chaos and danger of Kabul, where threats against interpreters and their families have become all too common. His invaluable service to the United States military made him a target, and the safety of his loved ones hung in the balance. As the situation escalated, Faiz and his family faced harrowing moments of fear and uncertainty.

However, amidst the turmoil, a ray of hope emerged—a beacon of light brought forth by the generosity and compassion of individuals like yourself committed to making a difference. Your assistance, along with that of many others, ensured Faiz and his family safe passage out of Kabul, away from the looming dangers that threatened their very existence.

As they embarked on their journey towards freedom, the smiles on Faiz’s wife and children’s faces pierced through the dark tunnel of uncertainty. Each step taken represented not just physical movement but also a profound shift towards a future filled with promise and opportunity.

Faiz’s story embodies the resilience of those who refuse to be defined by adversity. It speaks volumes about the profound impact of collective action and the transformative power of kindness. In a world often divided by strife and discord, Faiz’s journey serves as a reminder that hope can flourish even in the most challenging of circumstances.

The support extended to Faiz and his family exemplifies the best of humanity—a reminder that we are all connected by our capacity for empathy and our shared desire for a better world. Through acts of solidarity and compassion, we can rewrite the narratives of those facing unimaginable challenges.

As Faiz and his family settle into their new life, their story continues to inspire others to stand up for what is right and just. Their journey towards freedom is not just theirs alone—it is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of hope in the face of adversity.

Not too far removed from Faiz’s story, during moments of danger, families like Shahid’s encountered many hurdles; however, your contributions also provided them with a lifeline. When threats loomed large, your support guaranteed their survival by keeping them out of harm’s way and offering comfort during trying times.

Similarly, on the path to Utah’s embrace, the local community rallied around Captain Zafar and his family with compassion and practical aid. Together they embraced starts and built connections that transcended divides.

Recently, says CDR Carl Sullivan, on April 23rd, we witnessed the successful escape of the last family leader from among the five families. They embarked on a perilous journey reminiscent of the “Sound of Music,” guided by agents through hazardous routes from Pakistan/Afghanistan to Oman. While family members remain in Pakistan and Afghanistan due to the high expenses of relocation, prioritizing the evacuation of family heads was essential. They were under pursuit, facing policies that would have led to their return to Taliban-controlled areas. “Without our assistance, these individuals would have likely been captured and handed over, highlighting the critical nature of our intervention despite the significant sacrifices involved.

CDR Sullivan continues, “Aminullah, the eldest son of Carl’s former Afghan Army partner, COL Muzamil Safi, aged 23, is currently in hiding in Pakistan and facing significant danger and hardship. We have recently established contact with him and are actively exploring options to assist him. Aminullah is a highly intelligent young man, and we are contemplating the possibility of securing a college opportunity for him in the United States. Meanwhile, we continue to provide food assistance to many other family members who remain in Pakistan, underscoring our ongoing commitment to their well-being.

Captain Zafar, a local Utah Afghan special forces member, and his family are making significant strides forward. They have successfully completed applications for Medicaid and Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In addition, three of their sons are enrolled in full-time English classes at Snow College through a community program. At our home, we are providing ESL (English as a Second Language) classes for Captain Zafar and his wife to support their language acquisition. The Manti Utah community has rallied around this family, offering various forms of assistance and becoming a true blessing for the area”, stated Carl.

“One interpreter family is still in Kabul, while another family has successfully relocated to France. Both families are now looking ahead to the next steps in their journey towards reaching the United States. They possess exceptional translation skills in Urdu, Dari, Farsi, and Pashto, making them valuable assets for any organization requiring language services. Employing them not only benefits the hiring company but also contributes directly to life-saving efforts” stated Carl. For further information, please contact CDR Carl Sullivan (details found at the end of this article).

“We have assisted an Afghan Hazara women’s rights activist in her journey to freedom at various stages. Currently, we are seeking individuals who would be interested in reaching out to her and providing support”, claimed CDR Sullivan.

“We remain committed to supporting the local Utah Hazara community, a group targeted for genocide by the Taliban due to their ethnicity and religious beliefs (Shia vs. Sunni). Your assistance enables us to provide crucial aid and protection to these vulnerable individuals, ensuring their safety and well-being in the face of grave threats. Together, we can make a difference and stand against persecution, offering hope and solidarity to those in need”, is the impassioned plea made by CDR Sullivan.

All things being said, the journey is not yet complete. “With the world as our witness”, says Carl, “your ongoing support is more crucial than ever. Each contribution serves as a symbol of optimism, a pledge for days for those whose acts of selflessness resonate through time.

We acknowledge the vast array of pressing needs around us but are currently focusing our efforts on our immediate tasks to ensure success. As we are able, we may expand our reach to address additional challenges.

Our objectives for every legitimate interpreter, Afghan military veteran, and their families within our task group are clear and vital:

1. Safeguard those facing imminent danger by relocating them to safety.

2. Facilitate opportunities for our heroes and their families to establish sustainable lives in a setting of freedom and security.

3. Provide ongoing support to sustain these families throughout their transition.

The fall of Afghanistan stands as a profound tragedy, resulting in untold suffering for countless individuals. Masae and I represent just a small part of the collective efforts being undertaken by thousands of dedicated U.S. veterans to rescue their interpreters and Afghan military partners from perilous circumstances.

Once again, we extend our deepest gratitude for your invaluable support and participation in this critical mission. May God bless you abundantly.”

To learn more about supporting and making an impact through donations please reach out to CDR Carl Thomas Sullivan and Masae Yonaiyama Sullivan at Rise Beyond Borders. Your generosity will pave the way for futures.

Thank you for standing by our Afghan Heroes. Let’s craft this narrative of kindness and transformation side, by side.

If you would like to make a donation, you may do so through the New York Circle of Translators or directly to CDR Carl Thomas Sullivan Sr.

Contact Information:

CDR Carl Thomas Sullivan Sr., US Navy Retired

Disabled Combat Veteran AFG

Former Administrator, Japanese Language Division, American Translators Association

Masae Yonaiyama Sullivan. Owner with Carl, MasaCa Translation Services, LLC

Former Administrator, Japanese Language Division, American Translators Association

Rise Beyond Borders

Sterling, Utah, USA

Carl T. and Masae Yonaiyama Sullivan

MasaCa Translation Services LLC

Email: masacatranslationservices@gmail.com

Website: MasaCaTranslations.squarespace.com

Phone: 801-369-1501

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