An escape, a birth and a beginning: Afghan interpreter Sardar determined to save family
Sardar’s family is safe now in Canada thanks to VTN donors, but their journey to get here was fraught with danger and despair.
“For the donors, it was probably a small thing for them to donate, but it was a big thing for us. It was the donors’ help and the donors’ effort that we made it to Canada and our kids are going to school. My kids have a safe life here and a successful life in Canada. Everything is possible for them here. There are a lot of opportunities for them. The donors didn’t only save one life, they saved a family’s life. They saved our lives. They helped us economically, and mentally, also – they supported us and gave us encouragement when we were in Afghanistan. Thanks for the donors!”
Sardar served with Canadian troops in Kandahar from 2010-2012
Six months ago…
Sardar was desperate for answers from IRCC when he fled Afghanistan. Leaving his pregnant wife and three kids in search of safety, pleas for his family’s evacuation went unanswered until he connected with the VTN.
When the Taliban took over Afghanistan, Sardar’s wife was 7 months pregnant. His entire family was at risk due to Sardar’s work as an interpreter with the Canadian Armed Forces. He had spent two years on the front lines with the Canadian military in Kandahar through various missions. “We, the interpreters, were the eyes and ears of the Canadian Forces.”
Amidst the chaos and in fear of Taliban reprisals, Sardar travelled to Kabul airport in August 2021 to find out more information on how to evacuate. He was unable to reach anyone for instructions. He later returned with his pregnant wife and three young kids with all the necessary documents hoping to board a plane. Passing through three Taliban checkpoints en route to the airport, he and his wife were beaten by the Taliban when they discovered documents linking Sardar to the Canadian Forces. Again, Sardar returned home feeling discouraged.
He made one final journey alone to Kandahar by bus and taxi. With nowhere to stay, he slept on the streets in Kandahar while searching for a way out. He finally escaped to Pakistan via the Spin Boldak border with a truck driver. Once in Islamabad, he immediately began the process of getting his family out. Around this time, his wife admitted herself to the hospital in Afghanistan with labour pains. Frustrated at the lack of support from the IRCC, he heard of VTN’s work on evacuation assistance and reached out to our team.
Sardar escaped by land to Islamabad, Pakistan. “When I made it Islamabad but had no place to stay in. But then, VTN team reached out to me.”
“The VTN did everything to reunite me with my family in Islamabad. They were the heroes behind the scene. We couldn’t see their faces, but they were savings angels. They were doing a lot for Afghan refugees.”
VTN assisted Sardar with the paperwork his wife and children required, and helped transport them from the Afghan hospital to Pakistan. They also arranged a house in Islamabad for the family and worked with them to complete paperwork for Canadian immigration.
Four days after arriving in Islamabad, Sardar’s wife went into labour.
Sardar reunited with his children in Islamabad with their mother safe in hospital. “It was a happiest day of our life.”
“I had no money or knowledge of the hospitals in Pakistan. I had 3 other kids to look after while my wife was in labour. My wife couldn’t speak their language so I had to be there to translate while also taking care of my other 3 kids. I was in the hospital for 24 hours and couldn’t sleep or eat. I was exhausted mentally and physically.”
On September 27, 2021, they welcomed a baby girl, Tamanna Shinwari.
VTN continued to assist Sardar’s family with their paperwork and on October 15, 2022, Sardar, his wife, and their four children boarded a plane bound for Canada.
“When we arrived in Canada, we had a sigh of relief.”
When Sardar and his family arrived at the Toronto Airport.
They are currently in Ottawa where Sardar’s Canadian military friends are located. His two older kids are attending an English/French immersion school.
Sardar and his children with Canadian Veteran Dave Morrow, who worked with Sardar and advocated for him to come to Canada.
The first day of school for Fatima (9) and Suratwali (7). “Such a happy day for all of us.”
Sardar’s daughter Tamanna today.
“I am very happy for my daughters, in particular, because if they weren’t in Afghanistan, they wouldn’t be able to go to school. Now they can be nurses, engineers, doctors… they can be whatever they want to be.”
As Sardar begins to build a life in Canada, he is working at a burger joint and is determined to give his family the best life possible.