These were the words spoken to me by my dear friend Aaron. Being newly accustomed to war myself, it was reassuring to hear those selfless words. Much like the verse, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
In the half year I've known Aaron, he was always fearless, he didn't get scared. It always amazed me, on every operation this Afghan with minimal training kept his calm demeanor as the intensity would ramp up, and we knew people were about to die. Little did I realize, real life was his training! This was his life, he was used to this war, he'd spent his whole life in it.
For days we would be out on the front line, in the ongoing fight against the Taliban. When the shooting would stop, Aaron would spend his down time teaching me the Afghan ways. I felt like I was in the movie Avatar, on this newly discovered planet Pandora learning from the locals. I listened intently. This place was different, Aaron was different, I wanted to figure it out.
My new found brother had spent the last 12 years embedded with US Forces, helping to route the Taliban from enforcing their own sick version of Sharia Law on innocent civilians. For those unfamiliar with Sharia Law, it has strict enforcement guidelines for violating religious beliefs. Common punishment involves medieval style techniques like crucifixion, amputation, castration, and execution. All of which they still practice today!
Imagine drinking wine, or leaving home without a shroud to cover your face, and the appropriate punishment is flogging. Sharia Law glorifies the demeaning of women, and it is customary for husbands to hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear highhandedness in their wives.
Aaron tells me it's even worse than this, the Taliban add and take away from what they like and dislike about Sharia Law, and pervert it with their own ideas. This is the Taliban/ISIS utopia. This is what Aaron is in a fight against.
Aaron is proud to fight along side Americans. He longs for the day Afghanistan will be peaceful and boys and girls can study in the same class. Where woman will be able to work side by side with men, where there is law and order and peace in the land. Have you ever met a truly genuine person? You can tell when they gaze into your eyes and talk that they have no mal intent, no ego shrouding their soul. This is Aaron. I hope you all get to meet him one day.
Aaron has 3 kids and has been faithfully married for 10 years. Life is undeniably hard in Afghanistan. Most of the war torn country is poor and hard to provide a good life for a family, safety is the biggest concern for most families with children here.
Outside the city limits is a mud compound that Aaron calls home. This is particularly dangerous since the Taliban thrive outside the city. If he is found to be working with US Forces, his family would be killed and he would be tortured to death. The team worries daily for his safety.Despite playing a critical role, he is the definition of overworked and underpaid. He works for a small contracting company who refuses to pay him a larger salary. He makes $450 on a monthly basis with no additional benefits. God forbid if he is killed in action, beside his many friends in the US military community, his family will be left to fend for themselves.
Unfortunately Aaron has recently found out his neighbors know he is working with Americans. This is his nightmare.
His front door leads directly into his family hallway and bedroom. With no lock, and his secret out, it's becoming increasingly dangerous. My short term goal is to help Aaron get his family to a safe apartment in the city where the Taliban will not know where he lives, and he can safely lock the front door at night. A room in the city costs $180 per month.
Aaron has also expressed interest in coming to the United States and has recently applied for a Visa. He plans to join the military and continue be a fellow soldier in the United States Army. I would be proud to have him serve with me in the ranks of the greatest military on earth.
First and foremost is the safety of the family. By immediately leaving their current village and moving to the safety of the city, they would be virtually out of harms way, and their quality of life would rise dramatically. This alone would cost $1,000, they require a 6 month rent deposit in advance.
Visas and medical screening for each family member is $1,000 each. He will work to pay for the plane tickets, and housing upon arrival to the United States. My current plan is to have him live with me until he can get on his feet in the United States. $5,000 will dramatically change this mans life. It means a lot to me that he faces the enemy just like I do, but sacrifices his family safety and wages in order to help us eradicate terrorism. He is truly a friend and brother.
Anything you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Of note, $10 feeds his family of 5 for a day so nothing is too small to donate.
FOR SECURITY PURPOSES, PICTURES HAVE BEEN REMOVED and Aarons real name has been changed.
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