ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan couple is scrambling to help an Afghan family escape from the threat of the Taliban.
U.S. Army veteran Scott Sale of Zeeland received a desperate message for help from his friend and former interpreter, who he worked with during his deployment in Afghanistan.
The Afghan interpreter, who News 8 is not identifying for security reasons, had to flee his homeland several years ago because of his work with the U.S. military. Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban extended the threat to his family still living there.
“He was forced to leave his family because he essentially had a price on his head,” Sale said. “Now they’re all targets because there’s no longer the safety of the United States there and the collapse of the Afghan government and Afghan military is no longer there.”
Sale said the family has had to flee their home to live in hiding.
“They’ve already moved locations for their safety several times,” he said. “The challenge right now is getting approval for them to come to the United States and then the biggest challenge is trying to find a way out.”
Sale and his wife Alison have submitted all the necessary paperwork, filling out humanitarian parole applications for all nine of the interpreter’s family members under the threat of the Taliban.
The couple became overwhelmed with emotion when submitting the photos of each family member as part of the application process, especially when seeing the faces of the interpreter’s two young nieces, the same age their own children.
“We got the pictures of their two little girls and that’s when it was like a knife to the heart,” Sale’s wife Alison said. “Like those are our kids; they’re the same ages as our little kids. They’re in every comparison the same except for where they’re from and that our kids are safe and theirs are not.”
From that moment on, the family has been determined to see this process through.
“In the U.S. military, we’re trained to never leave anybody behind, but we left this family behind,” Sale said. “This family, they served the U.S. military, they fought for Afghanistan and they fought for our country.”
The Sale family is open to any help, seeking guidance and financial support. They have created a GoFundMe account to help cover the $5,175 in application fees for humanitarian parole. Any additional funds raised will go toward their mission of getting the Afghan family to safety.