I couldn’t leave them there to die

Wafa with Hunger Strike 2021
Wafa with Interpreters on Parliament Hill on Hunger Strike. Photo submitted.
Posted on: June 26, 2023

Can you imagine starting a new life in a new country, with hopes of your family joining you, only to find out the Canadian government has disallowed it because of a wrong date?

This is the fate of Hamayoon Wafa, who lives and works tirelessly in our community running a local gas station.

He was only 20 years old when he joined the Canadian Military as an interpreter in Afghanistan. I asked him why did you join? He said, “At that time Canadians were looking for people who can speak English and two official languages, Pashto and Dari … And I really like to help people so I join(ed), got hired as an interpreter, and I got promoted after a year. I always wanted to help others.”

Wafa can speak 4 languages: English, Pashto and Dari Urdu, and a little bit of French. He was in the military for 4 years before settling here in 2011, while his family was safely working back home in Afghanistan.

Because of his work with the Canadian military, his life and his family’s life was always at risk. Captain Kynan Walper from the Canadian Army writes, “Throughout my deployment, I worked closely with Hamayoon Wafa who served as my interpreter throughout the entirety of my combat tour. While serving alongside me, I personally witnessed Mr. Wafa receive numerous threats against his life from the Taliban by way of phone calls, text messages and even in person. The nature of his service to Canada placed Mr. Wafa and his entire extended family in great danger at the time which is now amplified severely due to the recent fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban.” The Canadian government recognized the danger these interpreters were in and promised their extended families safe passage to Canada.

But with the sudden pull out of the US Army in May 2021, things drastically changed. Wafa could see the increasing danger. Remember seeing the horrific videos of the USA aircraft leaving Afghanistan with people climbing and falling off the planes? How horrible it must have been, so desperate they were to leave.

As the Taliban was taking over territory around them quickly, he felt he had no choice but to move them before it was too late. “I couldn’t leave them there to die,” says Wafa.

So he moved them to a safe place in June 2021. Just three weeks later, the Canadian Government created a program to bring them here. But as government is always known for red tape, the government didn’t approve his family’s safe passage to Canada because they were moved before this program began.

And so Wafa’s mother, father, three brothers and two sisters live in hiding now. What should have been a few weeks or months has grown to 2 years, and they are still waiting for the Canadian government to do something. It seems their pleas are falling on deaf ears and this Canadian government’s promise to ensure the safety of his family has disappeared.

While they sit in limbo they can neither work nor go to school and support themselves, so Wafa is supporting his entire family on his own wages, a huge responsibility.
He has contacted the Immigration office.

He is not the only one in this situation; there are some 300 families in need of safe passage to Canada. So, in September 2021 the group hosted a hunger strike on Parliament Hill that CTV news reported on.

The National also did a News story in early 2021.

This past January rumors began of deporting families back to Afghanistan. This would be 100% torture and death waiting for them. That’s when local MPP Scott Reid brought it into Parliament. (We are waiting to get a further update from his office. At the time of this writing our messages have continued to go unanswered.)

Just this past week a new lawsuit has started against the Canadian Government claiming discrimination. Hundreds of Ukrainians are allowed into Canada but Afghan families that worked for the Canadian military are fleeing for their lives from the Taliban, and are stalled in limbo not able to get safely to Canada.

Wafa writes, “I love my mother so much. She is my best friend.” What would you not do to save your family from death and torture?

If you meet Wafa, you see that he is most kind, always patient and calm. You would never imagine in a million years the horrible things he has seen in the military and lives with this uncertainty over his head daily. How many of us can say our life is so bad after hearing this story?

So if the mainstream media is telling their stories why is there still no movement for 7 people languishing in hiding as if it is WWII again? Everyday Wafa wakes to the dread that his family could be sent back to face torture and death. He has been depressed often. His mother tells him “… leave everything to God. Being depressed won’t help us.”

When Wafa shared his story, I could not believe nothing was being done to reunite this family to safety. “I know it’s really so sad,” says Wafa. “Most people still don’t know how risky it was for the interpreter…especially the regime of the Taliban now. They are looking for them house to house to catch them.” Visions of WWII again swirl in my head…

Living in Canada, we can often take our lives for granted. It is hard to imagine we still live in a world where so much violence is being done to innocent people. Captain Kynan Walper writes, “I will personally vouch for the family of Hamayoon Wafa to any agency that will assist with their evacuation to Canada. In the case of Mr. Wafa, I believe it would be an extreme disservice to the brave dedication to Canada displayed by Mr. Wafa if his family does not receive a facilitated move to Canada immediately.” We couldn’t agree more.

If you are interested in helping Wafa be reunited with his family please contact me [Rita Davidson at findthewayhome23@gmail.com]. I would love to hear from anyone with any resources and ideas you have to share. We hope to have some good news soon.

Until then, pray (if you can) for their family to be protected until they can be brought to safety.

Opinion piece submitted by Rita Davidson

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News