Afghan war vet races against red tape and the Taliban to bring interpreter’s family to N.S.
John and Kara Monaghan have a busy life raising four children, but another family is never far from their thoughts.
John is a retired Canadian naval lieutenant, 13 years removed from a tour of Afghanistan -- a conflict which drew him close to his comrades-in-arms.
"It's camaraderie like you couldn't imagine,” he says.
John was part of a provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.
Part of the job was winning the hearts and minds of locals by building infrastructure, like fresh water wells, in small Afghan villages.
That's where Mr. Jones comes in.
"He proved he was reliable and we just became friends," John says of a former interpreter whose true identity remains hidden because it could make him a target of the Taliban.
John says Mr. Jones did more than just translate.
“A lot of our information we got was through him. His personality, people liked him,” says John.
John retired from service in 2016 and the following year, he helped Mr. Jones move to Canada and get his citizenship. But PTSD and loneliness prevented a happy ending.
Mr. Jones moved back to Afghanistan after learning his mother was ill.
"She ended passing away as the Taliban retook the country," says John.
That was last August, a terrible month, which triggered John's own PTSD.
“It created a lot of anxiety in the Afghan vets,” he says. “I'm still dealing with it and it's hard.”
But John and Kara took action, lobbying and fundraising to bring Mr. Jones, his wife, his four older siblings and their large families to Nova Scotia; 35 people in total with a 36th on the way.
The Jones are expecting their first baby, which has increased the Monaghans' sense of urgency.
“We just want them here now," says Kara. “If we could just pluck them up … that would be ideal.”
But it’s not that simple.
“Red tape is the bane of my existence," says John.
However, good news arrived this week from Ottawa in the form of official paperwork.
"They're all basically approved to come to Canada now,” John explains, but he says leaving Afghanistan may mean dealing directly with the Taliban, which he worries about.
“Anything there can set something off and set in motion something terrible," he said.
The Monaghans have been in contact with the Immigration Services Association of Nova Scotia, which they say has pledged to help find housing for the family, and they say they’ve received similar assurances from Premier Tim Houston’s office.
To help cover the enormous costs of bringing three dozen people from Afghanistan to Canada, the Monaghans are raffling off tickets for a donated trip for two to Sable Island.
The goal is to raise $100,000, but so far, they’ve sold less than $5,000-worth, and time is running short.
“So close, yet so far,” John says.
Anyone interested in donating towards the Monaghans cause can visit here.
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