News / Asia

    Afghan Interpreter Finally Lands in US

    Afghan Interpreter Finally Lands in USi
    X
    November 07, 2013 8:57 PM
    Janis Shenwary, who worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, is said to have saved the lives of five American soldiers. But when Shenwary tried to come to the United States - under a special U.S. government visa program for interpreters in Afghanistan and Iraq - he ran into difficulties. At that point, one of the men whose life he had saved launched a campaign to bring Shenwary to the U.S. VOA’s Kokab Farshori has more
    Kokab Farshori
    Janis Shenwary, who worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, is said to have saved the lives of five American soldiers.  But when Shenwary tried to come to the United States - under a special U.S. government visa program for interpreters in Afghanistan and Iraq - he ran into difficulties. At that point, one of the men whose life he had saved launched a campaign to bring Shenwary to the U.S. 

    Army Captain Matt Zeller was embedded as a combat adviser with the Afghan security forces in 2008, when his convoy came under attack by a group of Taliban fighters.  Hurt and low on ammunition, Zeller was lying in a ditch when his interpreter, Janis Shenwary, who was also trained to use firearms, came to his rescue.

    "Somebody landed next to me and then I heard the unmistakable sound of an AK-47 being shot right next to my head.  And I turned, and it is Janis shooting dead these two Taliban fighters who had rounded the corner of a building.  Had he not been covering my back, I wouldn’t be sitting here.  He literally saved my life," said Zeller.

    Shenwary risked his life and killed two of his own countrymen to save an American.  He says Zeller asked him why.

    "I told him that you are my guest in my country.  You are here to fight for my people’s freedom.  You guys are here to bring peace for Afghans.  So, it is our responsibility to protect you and save your lives," said Shenwary.
     
    Shenwary’s association with the U.S. military made him a target for the Taliban. So in 2011, he applied for a Special Immigration Visa to move with his family to the U.S.  But Zeller says the visa did not come through in a timely fashion.

    The problem was that the State [Department] just sat on his visa and did nothing.  This past summer he sent me a Facebook message and said it’s only a matter of time before the Taliban catch me and kill me.  At that point, I went to the press, I started a change.org petition and got 100,000 signatures in a week and I was able to create a groundswell of support that compelled the government to do the right thing and issue him his visa," he said.

    Zeller says the State Department then nearly revoked the visa because of some incorrect information about Shenwary.   At that point he sought help from some members of Congress - allowing Shenwary to come to the United States.  Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, one of the members Zeller worked with, says the visa process should be expedited.

    "There are thousands of people still in Afghanistan who helped the United States, and their lives are at risk.  And a number of them are going to be killed and tortured, and mutilated bodies will be paraded to discourage others from helping us.  So, the U.S. needs to do its part as they did their part," said Moran.

    In an e-mail response to VOA, the State Department said “Overall, over 2,500 Afghans who have worked for the United States in Afghanistan and their family members have benefited from Special Immigrant Visa programs."  
    It goes on to say "There is no longer a backlog of applicants waiting for an eligibility decision.”

    Shenwary is extremely pleased to be safe in the U.S. with his wife and two children.  He says he looks forward to a bright future for not just his own kids but also for the millions of children in Afghanistan.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora