ROCKINGHAM — Bean bags will be flying at the VFW post Saturday in an effort to help an organization that helps foreign interpreters settle in the U.S.
Interpreters like Nassir Ahmad.
Ahmad served as an combat interpreter for the U.S. military, joining several units on missions, from 2002-2014 in the Kandahar, Zabul, Helmand and Uruzgan provinces of Afghanistan.
Aside from the danger in battle, Ahmad also had to worry about the danger of being considered a wanted man by the Taliban.
“They had my pictures up all over my village,” he recalled during a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. In addition to receiving threatening phone calls, Ahmad continued, “They attacked me twice in front of my house.”
Ahmad said he had to sneak in under the cover of night to visit his family, and eventually had to move them to keep them safe.
Despite the dangers, “I never quit,” Ahmed said, adding that he is “proud to have a part of that.”
He later moved to North Carolina, but it took him three years to relocate his wife and three children to his new home in Rockingham.
“I believe dreams come true in America when you work hard,” he said.
But finding work can be hard itself for interpreters like Ahmad — “They don’t have enough money to survive.”
That’s why he approached Wynston and Jeff Tyler — senior vice-commander and quartermaster, respectively, of VFW Post 4203 — to have a fundraiser for the organization No One Left Behind.
Wynston Tyler said there are programs to help interpreters like Ahmed move to America, but nothing to help with finding housing or jobs.
No One Left Behind was founded in 2013 by Matt Zeller and his life-saving interpreter Janis Shinwari “to ensure America treats our interpreters as the heroes and veterans they are.”
“Too often, government red-tape results in our interpreters being left behind and in harm’s way,” Zeller says in a message on the organization’s website. “And for those fortunate enough to receive a Special Immigrant Visa to come to America … Once here, they and their families are largely left to fend for themselves.”
The organization’s goals include resettling 120 Afghan and Iraqi interpreters and their families to the U.S. in the next 10 years; providing three months of housing, furnishings and transportation to families; helping with employment and school enrollment; and providing host families to help with integration.
“Anything they can do to help, they try do it,” Ahmad said.
Although he wasn’t assisted by the organization himself, Ahmad is a supporter, even asking Facebook friends to donate to the cause for his birthday.
Registration for Saturday’s corn hole tournament starts at 2 p.m. with the games beginning at 3. The first round will be “bring your partner,” and those following will be blind draw, according to the event page on Facebook.
There will also be a 50/50 raffle and Tyler said food was donated by Perdue.
Robin Roberts, the post’s auxiliary president, secured the entertainment for the night: Hardwired.
The rock/heavy metal coverband — comprised of Richmond County natives Philip Neal and Bub Barrett and Anson County original Mark McRae — will perform from 8-11 p.m. The band also played at both Rockin’ For Veterans concerts.
For more information, including entry fees, contact: Wynston Tyler, 910-995-9572; Jeff Tyler, 910-417-8569; or Robin Roberts, 910-995-2889.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]