Afghanaich ann an Leòdhas na adhbhar smaoineachaidh, tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh
Nuair a chuir Frishta Matan, a piuthar agus a teaghlach cas air raon-laighe port-adhair Steòrnabhaigh, b' e uisge agus gaoth a bha gan coinneachadh. Ach, cha do chuir sin càil a' mhaill air a' ghàirdeachas a dh’fhairich iad, saorsa is sàbhailteachd cho follaiseach air an aodainnean agus an gàireachan.
By Murray MacLeòid
Thursday, 28th October 2021, 4:45 pm
An teaghlach Afghanach ann an Leòdhas còmhla ri Iain is Lorna Norgrove
Às dèidh dà mhìos, fhuair iad air teicheadh bho Kabul agus brùidealachd an Taliban agus seo iad a-nis mìltean air falbh ann an saoghal eile. A’ feitheamh riutha aig a’ phuirt-adhair bha Iain is Lorna Norgrove, a rinn strì mhòr airson an toirt gu sàbhailteachd.
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Cha b’ urrainn dhan t-saoghal a dh’fhàg iad agus dhan t-saoghal ùr man coinneimh a bhith na b' eadar-dhealaichte. “B’ fheàrr leam an t-uisge na an Taliban,” thuirt Frishta. Anns na beagan faclan sin, tha sgeulachd mhòr.
Tha Frishta, Farzana agus an teaghlach fortanach. Tha gu leòr a dh’fhàg iad air an cùlaibh nach eil. Bha an dà phiuthar ag obair dha Caidreachas Norgrove, a chaidh a chur air chois mar chuimhneachan air nighean Iain is Lorna, Linda, a bha ag obair anns an dùthaich nuair a chaochail i.
Leis gun robh iad ag obair dha buidheann dhen t-seòrsa sin, bha am beatha ann an cunnart bhon Taliban. Ged a bha iad air liosta airson faighinn a-mach às an dùthaich, leis an troimh-chèile a bha a’ dol, cha deach aca air a dhèanamh agus dh’fheumadh iad falach ann an taigh-òsta fad sheachdainean gus am faigheadh buidheann-chathrannais air cùisean a chur air dòigh. Fàd na h-ùine sin, bha dearg eagal am beatha orra gum faigheadh an Talbian sgeul orra; fuaim nan gunnaichean a’ dol a h-uile là mar chomharra air an t-seòrsa beatha a dh’fhaodadh a bhith a’ feitheamh riutha.
Chan urrainnear an làn sgeulachd air mar a fhuair iad a-mach innse ach tha e a’ gabhail a-staigh Oifis nan Dùthchannan Cèin, Feachdan Aimeireagaidh agus tè ghniomhachais aig a bheil ceangal ris na h-eileanan.
Ach, math ‘s gu bheil an sgeulachd seo, tha e na chuimheachan air na dh’fhàg iad air an cùlaibh; an iomadach caileag comasach geur, mar Frishta is Farzana, a tha a-nise beò fo bhruidealach; an gòraiche eagalach a dh’fhàg air an airm cùl a chùr ri dùthaich a bha fhathast cugallach is aimhreiteil.
Bhon as e an fhìrinn nach d’ fhuair ach glè bheag air teicheadh agus mar as fhaide a tha an ùine a’ dol seachad, gur ann as lugha a tha an cothrom a’ fàs dhaibh.
Tionndaidhidh aire an t-saoghail air falbh bho Afghanistan, agus tha e air tòiseachadh mar-thà. Dè an uair sin dhan Taliban agus an ìomhaigh a tha air a bhith ga toirt seachad g’ eil iad air atharrachadh?
Tha Iain agus Lorna Norgrove air a ràdh g’ eil iad a’ dol a chumail a’ dol le obair a’ chathrannais , cho fad ’s a ghabhas. Cha leig sin a leas ìongnadh a chur air duine. Bho chaill iad an nighean ann an 2010, tha iad air a bhith nan ìongnantas.
Bha am fiosrachadh a bh’ air an eadar-lìon air cò dha a thug iad cuideachadh air a thoirt sìos airson adhbhran sàbhailteachd ach b’ ann san Ògmhios a dh’innis iad gun do chuir 1,700 boireannach tagradh thuca airson cuideachadh foghlaim – an ceathrad uiread ’s a chuir a' bhliadhna ron a sin.
Tha sin na dhearbhadh gun robh iad a’ dèanamh feum ‘s gun robh cùisean ag atharrachadh. Gu mì-fhortanach, cha tug e mòran airson a' chaochladh a thoirt air ais. As bith dè cho math ’s a chòrdas Leòdhas ris na h-Afghanaich, ‘s e am briseadh-cridhe g’ eil an seòrsa saorsa sin dùinte dhaibh nan dùthaich fhein.
Fios bhon neach-deasachaidh:
Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.
When Frishta Matan, her sister and family stepped off the plane onto the tarmac at Stornoway airport, they were greeted by autumn wind and rain. But not even that could dampen their sense of joy, a feeling of safety so evident in their warm smiles and open expressions.
After 12 weeks they had managed to flee Kabul and Taliban tyranny and here they were thousands of miles away – both metaphorically and literally – on the island of Lewis.
Waiting in the terminal building, with an equal sense of anticipation and relief, were John and Lorna Norgrove, who had tenaciously fought to secure their freedom over the last two months, and, less importantly, a small throng of local reporters.
The contrasting environments of what they left behind and where they had arrived could hardly go unnoticed, but as Frishta so laconically put it: “We’d rather deal with the rain than the Taliban.”
Frishta, her sister Farzana and family are the lucky ones. They managed to escape – just. So many others have not.
The sisters worked for the Norgrove Foundation, set up in memory of John and Lorna’s daughter, Linda, who was an aid worker out there. As employees of a western organisation which focused on education for women and girls, they were at high risk of Taliban vengeance. Not only that but they belong to the persecuted Hazara community. Their lives were in peril.
Though on a priority list, they could not initially make it to a plane due to the chaos at the airport and spent 23 days hiding in hotels and guest houses in Mazer-i-Sharif, waiting for flights to be arranged by an American charity – all the while in fear that they would be captured and removed by the Taliban, the sound of gunfire a constant reminder of what lay ahead.
The full story of their escape cannot be told for security reasons, but involves the UK Foreign Office, the US military and an American businesswoman with connections to the island.
But for all that this represents a positive outcome, it is a reminder of what they left behind; of the countless intelligent and engaging women, just like Frishta and Farzana, who now face a brutal and oppressed future; of the sheer lunacy of a sudden military withdrawal from a country riven with tribalism and instability.
For the truth of the matter is that only a fraction of those deemed worthy of evacuation have been fortunate enough to find an escape and with each passing day the chances of them doing so rescind, left to face their fate under merciless ideologues.
Eventually, and it’s starting to happen already, attention will be diverted away from Afghanistan. What then for the Taliban when a more liberal image is no longer needed for the world’s media?
For their part, John and Lorna Norgrove have committed to trying to continue the work of the Norgrove Foundation in Afghanistan, which should surprise no-one. Since the death of their daughter in a failed rescue mission by US Special Forces in 2010, they have demonstrated remarkable fortitude and grace, not apportioning blame in the most trying of circumstances and setting their sights on charity work in memory of their daughter.
Information about the numerous individuals and projects they have helped has been removed from their website for fear of persecution, but in an update back in June they reported that 1,700 women had applied for scholarship assistance to their charity – a four-fold increase on the previous year.
That was a clear sign that they were making a difference and things were heading in the right direction.
That was only four short months ago and now Afghanistan faces a very different future. For all that the new arrivals may enjoy life in Lewis, the wind and rain et al, the real heartbreak is that the basic human freedoms we take for granted are cruelly denied in the country of their birth.