By J.L.Ruston

*For security, a pseudonym is used throughout this article for the protection and safety of Farhads’ family still living in Afghanistan.

One courageous and indomitable spirit of a man that regretfully fled Afghanistan during the Taliban’s 2021 resurgence hasn’t let the distance and risk prevent him from sourcing ways to improve the quality of life for the thousands of citizens still remaining under extreme and unjust restrictions.

Before *Farhad arrived in Australia, he worked as an interpreter, helping NATO forces get ahead of Taliban activity. His hope never dwindled, nor did his energy for the chance of witnessing his country’s honest survival. This made him and his family active targets of the terrorist organisation. Now safe from immediate threat, Farhad continues exercising his every will of advocacy and action towards a united consciousness of world events and freedom, safety, dignity, and hope.

On June 23rd, 2023, a diary-like novel was released by debut author Joseph Cassar, The Afghan Interpreter. When True Grit Counts. The book not only engulfs you into a real-world operating in a completely different level of reality than most of us ever know. It educates and throws you into a humbling life perspective.

The book talks about the sheer desperation as the Taliban gained control and the lose grip the people had on their freedom. The love for one’s country and the sad relief of getting aboard the rescue flight meant leaving a whole life behind for the foreseeable. At the same time, as a reader, you still get to meet the sweetness of Farhads nature. He continues to give as much as he can even though all he had was lost. He remains peacefully guided by his faith and family values and acts as an example to us all to never give up hope.

Joe and Farhad became united as brothers over the making of this book. Their equally mischievous nature and deep respect for life bonded their families in a cared-for union that will sit unbroken and forever warm. Joe was able to honestly capture the strong yet gentle spirit of the Afghani people in every word and continues to honour their experiences by committing to not taking a profit, instead seeing that it all goes back to the people in Afghanistan.

Each purchase made is an act of love from you. As 100% of profits go directly to fund the continuation of underground education for women in Afghanistan and help to provide for the 23 million Afghan people currently living below the poverty line.

Held in Adelaide town hall, the launch interview was led by the remarkable Dr Gill Hicks AM MBE, who applauded the book “incredibly motivating – a story of survival, determination, a great bit of cheekyness and absolute grit.”

Gill captured the focus of both friends, human rights and social activists, army personnel and politicians alike with such intense interest that only thumping heartbeats could be heard between the breath of each recount.  

“I’d like to raise the awareness of the people still left behind.” Joseph Cassar announces with a passion that echoes through the town hall.  

“I’m encouraging us to look around, closer to home. We (Australia) are accepting a lot of refugees. 

On our own, we can exorcise a very positive influence on our environment. 

We can help organisations that take in refugees from when they first land and ask them, how can we assist you? 

As employers, we can ask, can we give them their first job? 

It makes a huge difference to that person. The stigma of being a refugee is removed as soon as they get that first job. They are coming here with life experience, so we need to work to put that first foot forward and try to assimilate their skill base around what we can offer them. 

On top of that, this attitude helps the people they support back at home survive. Those newly formed skills and abilities not only help them but also help to improve yourself and your effectiveness in helping others. To me, that’s very powerful because it rounds your character.”


Joseph Cassar (left) Dr Gill Hicks (left) Image - independent

At $35 and a click of a laptop button, it might be the most effortless way you can contribute towards the better health and well-being of a collapsing society plagued with conflict, for it not only educates you as a reader but countless women wanting to learn and grow with a brain that can build their country back up from catastrophe.  

“Children are our greatest opportunity to make an impact. They’re curious, imaginative, and have all the components of real change makers, so we start there. If we can sufficiently nourish people with nutritious foods, education, and opportunities, they can be tremendous forces for good in every connection they make. – Angela Gaton-Wiltshire

Afghanistan has a colourful, flavourful and rich culture when the people are left to thrive in peace. The clothes are vibrant, fun, and free, just like the artful streets flooded with art and live music echoing through the streets. The food is rich with the kind of flavour that makes you close your eyes in an attempt to savour the taste for as long as possible, imprinting the fusion with your body as a staple cherished memory in itself. Grapes so sweet you can have only a handful before being finished, and water so blue you could swim past your body height and still see the fish at the bottom of the floor.

A cherished home where little wanted to leave.

As the title explains, When True Grit Counts, this powerfully motivating book stands as a hard testament to the level of strength and will required for survival against harrowing odds in the real world. 

Jason Scanes, a former Captain in the Australian Defence Army who served in Afghanistan and helped Farhad, his family and thousands of others reach safety, MCd the evening and shared the importance of the role that interpreters played during the war, 

“What we experienced in Afghanistan challenged me emotionally, mentally, and also challenging me morally. The role of the interpreters extended well beyond the simple spoken word. They were absolutely critical to our mission.”

Jason continues:

“Everything from reading the body language and facial expressions to local conditions to pharma, facilitating model relations, gauging adversaries. Their role was complex and essential.

Today, they are actively hunted by the Taliban sort of prize for their assistance to coalition forces.

It was these experiences that reinforced our values. To do the right thing and lead from the front. To put others before self. To have courage by sheer passion. These are the core values we look to instil through training in the military.”

Mr Scanes was one of the leading voices in creating the Afghan Lee visa (Locally Engaged Employee), which was created to help citizens like Farhad, who had worked closely with overseas intelligence – reach safety in a show of humility and acknowledged respect for their committed camaraderie over the years. 

“Just being in the military doesn’t make you a good person. It’s your actions that other people will perceive and define you by.” Jason finished with a firm nod of proud accomplishment. 

Jason (left) orgonising a handover a gifts to those who took part in the making of the book.

Rotary president Paul Thomas was present for the anticipated book launch, as were the honourable Louise Miller-Frost labour MP and Greens MP Robert Simms, who said; 

“It’s been incredible to see so many Afghans come to South Australia and be welcomed into the community but also make such a big contribution. I think we have a responsibility to help these families, given the involvement that Australia has during the war in Afghanistan. 

It was great to see so many people here tonight, the story that’s being told is really important for us to understand what’s happening, and I think we need to do more as a country to help these people in terms of expanding our refugee intake and creating more pathways for people to be able to come here.”

The launch of the Afghan Interpreter brought both tears of satisfied relief to the team involved in its creation and tears of love from the hall of listeners, absorbing intently, becoming overwhelmed with the need to get stuck into the action. For Farhad, this book launch marked the beginning of a new avenue for which he could help his people.

Jason Scanes continues with a call out to all, 

“We have a responsibility to be good global citizens, to have courage and stand up for others. The poor are less fortunate, regardless of their religion or their ethnicity.

We should know the difference between fear and ignorance. It’s important that the creative vision to find people’s ideas, dreams, and even nations that can save the persecution of the defenceless, if used in the wrong context, can incite racism, exclusion and hatred.

For author Joeseph Cassar, who had never imagined himself writing a book but couldn’t turn away the innocent cheek of Farhad and his approach over a Facebook message asking him to help him document his life. 

Joe shared that there are future plans for a sequel that will uncover more of Afghanistan’s rich history.

“This is not the end. This is not the last book.” Joe exclaims with a firm grin. 

“The profits initiate a non-government orgonisation – relieving the conditions for afhgans who are below then poverty level – subsidising the underground education of women who are being virtually imprisoned in their homes, they cant go out without a male guardian, they cant get a higher education and they can’t obtain access to basic medical services. We need both men and women to be capable of driving the country forward.” 

To buy the book, you can go directly to the publishing house here

OR if you want one signed by Joeseph Cassar himself, you can email him here directly. 

The important years that are following 2023 are going to see a rush of positive impacts due to the wholesome brotherhood formed, Farhads unwavering determination to see improvement, and the might of Australia standing beside his family and their quest for united peace.



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