Interpreters: Either Left Behind or Left to Fend for Themselves in a Foreign Land

Have you ever heard of the organization, No One Left Behind (NOLB)?

Not to be confused with the seriously flawed and misunderstood No Child Left Behind Act, NOLB was formed to help Afghan and Iraqi interpreters (also known as “translators”) working for the United States gain their Special Immigration Visas, be relocated to the U.S. and setup properly so that they can actually survive in this foreign land — rather than be forced back into their home countries where they are oftentimes hunted down by the Taliban (or others) for being traitors.

What the founders of NOLB discovered was that these interpreters who risk their lives working for the United States government (and indirectly for our citizens living abroad and on U.S. soil) are promised safety and freedom from the hell they are merely existing within (which is incentive to help).

But the vast majority of times they are either left behind after our troops are pulled out (which leaves the interpreter and their family targets of the terrorists our country is fighting) or the interpreter is brought to the US only with the clothes on their back and whatever they can fit into one suitcase. They land in the U.S. and before they know it they are left with little to no resources and no backup plan.

Our country is the land of backup plans. But you have to have a fair shot at opportunity, and you must have hustle.

Please don’t confuse this post to be an attack on my beloved country, our government, or our dedicated military. This post is to highlight a human issue that has unpredictable consequences, all of which the majority of our nation is clueless about, but needs to be made aware of so we can play a role in improving the situation—standing what we’re for and not merely screaming about what we’re against. Even if you only do it for self-preservation and/or peace of mind, doing something is better than doing nothing.

If you need help wrapping your mind around all of this, let me shed some light….

Could you imagine risking your life and the lives of your family and friends to serve the government who has come to your country to fight “terrorism and injustice”. Every day you serve this foreign government, you are seen as a betrayer to those who are either in power or causing the most havoc in your country.

Would you risk everything for freedom, dignity, and a chance at a better life?

Could you imagine uprooting your family with only one suitcase each? Could you leave behind the pictures, keepsakes, family heirlooms, your car, and things you worked hard to earn and get? You’re leaving behind extended family members and friends, to have little to no contact with them once you arrive in the foreign country, because it puts them in even greater risk.

Well consider the shock of coming to the foreign land (in this case, the U.S.) just to be abandoned without a home, no money, no job, and little to no resources. Consider not having an immigration Visa that would ensure your stay and the guarantee of not being deported back to your home country.

Now consider helping this foreign government (risking everything each and every day) just to be told that you and your family can’t be rescued and relocated to the country you served, but rather must remain in your home country and face the consequences of your “traitorous act”. Maybe this other government will make an exception, but maybe not.

Right now there are interpreters waiting in Iraq and Afghanistan (and elsewhere) hoping that their service to the U.S. wasn’t in vain. Hoping that they can be rescued from the hell that they are facing. They served in hopes of ensuring the safety and freedom of their people and Americans abroad and on U.S. soil. They served in hopes of a slice at the great American ‘pie’.

There are numerous interpreters living in the U.S. who are living in extreme poverty, some have been evicted from their U.S. apartments and many are left with only one option….returning to the country they fled and “betrayed”.

Why should people in the countries we enter risk life and limb (and the lives of their loved ones) to help the U.S., just to possibly end off worse than they were before our countries intervention?

Could you uproot your family and take them to another country you have never lived in, and then announce to them weeks, months, or years later that this freedom dream is about to disappear, and that unless a miracle visits your family very soon all of you will have to return to your home country? Where do you return to exactly? You can’t go back to your old home. You can’t get your old job back. You can’t relaunch your old business you were operating before you left.

Could you look into the eyes of your spouse and children and watch their hope fade out of their eyes, and watch it be replaced with a fear greater than what you saw before you fled?

Well this is what’s happening right now.

We have courageous and hopeful people living in absolute fear in their home countries praying for salvation in the way of plane tickets, immigration Visas, opportunity, and a safe home to call their own.

We have courageous and hopeful people now living in the U.S. with limited to no resources, no guidebook, and no way to navigate through a foreign (and much larger) land with foreign rules, laws, customs, and cultures.

NOLB has been working hard to help these interpreters by providing them with three months of rent, fully furnished homes, job placement, and cars. Maybe you can volunteer or make monetary or in-kind donations to assist NOLB with helping these brave individuals with their transition from a life of fear into a life of hope.

Please remember that every war, conflict, mission (both public and secret), and intervention has innocent people and families on both sides. It’s not just our troops risking their lives. It’s not just our families fearful of the outcomes. There are everyday men, women, and children living in those countries risking their lives to help our troops –and to help us. They aren’t soldiers. They are regular people just like you and me.

Don’t they deserve more than a “thanks” and pat on the back? Or a “Welcome to the U.S., here’s a few bucks and a map, we hope you can figure out the rest on your own“. Okay it may not be that harsh, but I’m sure it feels like that to those people who gave up everything for the U.S.

Consider this…how helpful will people continue to be to and for our country if they no longer have hope that the U.S. will help them help themselves to a better life than they currently have?

Would you serve without immediate and substantial benefit to you and your family?

Would you serve if you heard that the other side of the coin may be much worse a fate than your current situation?

To learn more about what interpreters risk helping us visit this link.

To learn more about NOLB and possibly even help with their efforts, please visit.

Sources:
No One Left Behind.
http://www.nooneleft.org

Men’s Journal.
http://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/collection/afghan-interpreters-struggle-to-find-a-home-in-the-u-s-20140625

Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. The Paradigm Life. All Rights Reserved.

Mother’s Day 2011- Clessence’s Story

As a supporter of Women for Women International I of course had to share this with all of you. This information can be found on Women for Women International’s YouTube page:

This Mother’s Day send a message to a mother you care about by sending a gift to Women for Women International. Choose a virtue that is close to your heart and share her story – like Clessence from Rwanda. She is a twenty-nine-year-old mother to a girl and a boy. Before joining the Women for Women International program, Clessence performed manual labor, cultivating others’ gardens so she could have a source of food. Clessence and her husband are divorced, and her husband never provided any support — not even for their three-year-old son’s medical care. Send an eCard to an important women in your life today! Visit: http://www.womenforwomen.org/clessence

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman