dissabte, 30 de novembre de 2013

The Guardian. Afghan interpreters who fell in love with US soldiers struggle in visa limbo.

Afghan interpreters who fell in love with US soldiers struggle [ to go or progress with difficulty] in visa limbo.

When Mary Ann Rollins was deployed to Afghanistan with the Utah National Guard, she was prepared for bullets [projectile of a gun, rifle, etc], bombs, danger and even death – but not love.

During the months spent on tiny [very small] bases in the forested and often deadly mountains of eastern Afghanistan, she became close friends with Zia, an Afghan interpreter who regularly put himself in harm's way [A risky position; danger] to save others, who always had time for local children and a kind word for anyone who was down.

Rollins' tour ended in 2009, but her close friendship with Zia continued over Skype and email – and grew into something more. Two years after leaving Afghanistan in uniform she was back as a civilian to get married.

"I wasn't looking for romance at the time at all, it just never crossed my mind," the 33-year-old told the Guardian from her home in the US. "When he told me he loved me I was surprised, but I realised that I loved him too.

"There's something about all of this that is almost magical. It's like it was meant to happen. It's amazing that I could find the person who is perfect for me, on the other side of the world, on a tiny outpost [the troops assigned to such a position]in a remote area of Afghanistan."

The wedding was low key [Having low intensity], the honeymoon just a couple of days in Kabul, but Rollins had time to meet her new in-laws [family by marriage] and get to know the chaotic, lively Afghan capital few foreigners ever see.

She returned to the US pregnant and armed with a sheaf [a bundle of objects tied together] of papers for her husband's visa application. She knew it would probably take months but had no idea the secretive, byzantine process would leave her stranded [To bring into or leave in a difficult] on opposite sides of the world from her husband for more than two years.

Now 15 months old, her son, Ryhan, shouts "dad" when his mum opens up her computer, in anticipation of one of the Skype chats that are their only contact with Zia, 30.

"I wasn't happy about not having my husband here for the birth, but I didn't expect that he would miss the whole first year of our son's life," said Rollins. "I'm glad that [Ryhan] does at least recognise his dad."

Zia – whose name has been changed to protect his identity – still works on a US base as an interpreter. Yet [in spite of that] a decade of loyal service has done nothing to speed up his immigration case. The torturous limbo in which he, Rollins and Ryhan find themselves goes by the Orwellian name of administrative processing.

After usual visa checks are finished, some people need to supply extra information to get a visa, the US state department says. But applicants [a person who applies, as for a job, grant, support, etc; candidate] get no news on what is being checked – or how long it will take. Some have waited months, or like Rollins and Zia, much longer.


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