Afghan interpreter embraces Anzac spirit

He would be a familiar face to many in Mandurah and Halls Head, but few would know that Sameer Ahmed spent years in Afghanistan doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

Now an Australian permanent resident, Mr Ahmed was an interpreter for Australian and coalition forces on the front line of the war on terror, putting his life on the line to support the fight against the Taliban in the years after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The 28-year-old hopes to soon be an Australian citizen and he credits his time serving with Australians for the love he has found for his adopted country.

Working from the military base in Tarin Kowt, Mr Ahmed grew to know Australians and the Australian sense of humour, even though the work was difficult.

He said there was a big cultural difference between himself and the Australians at first, but they soon made him feel comfortable.

"I used to work with them and stood side by side with them every day in the base, so it’s easy for me to live here now,” he said.

“It was dangerous, yes, even inside the base in Tarin Kowt we’d get rockets coming from the Taliban insurgents.

I remember one night, I can’t forget it, we had five rockets in one night...

Sameer Ahmed

“I remember one night, I can’t forget it, we had five rockets in one night and we didn’t sleep and we had bunkers that we hid in, so yeah, it was dangerous.”

Mr Ahmed said he was amazed how the Australians kept their sense of humour even under fire.

“So I did like Australians from the very first, it was a dream for me to come to Australia,” he said.

“I never thought I’d be a citizen or come to Australia or be a permanent resident, but it was because we were in danger in Afghanistan, if you work with the armies then after that it’s very hard if you stay at home.”

An Australian soldier meets Afghan children outside the base in Tarin Kowt, where Mr Ahmed was based. Photo: SMH/Alex Ellinghausen

An Australian soldier meets Afghan children outside the base in Tarin Kowt, where Mr Ahmed was based. Photo: SMH/Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Ahmed said he still worried about his extended family in Afghanistan.

“It was a very hard life, my concern is still thinking about my parents, my families, my youngest brothers, my sisters and mother, I’m concerned about them still,” he said.

“It’s very hard to live there.”

Now working at Look Smart Alterations in both Mandurah Forum and Halls Head Central, Mr Ahmed was keenly anticipating Anzac Day.

He remembered the troops he served beside.

Canning MP Andrew Hastie was one of the Australians who served in Afghanistan near where Mr Ahmed worked as an interpreter.

“Sameer served with Aussie troops in Afghanistan as an interpreter in Tarin Kowt and the Chora Valley,” Mr Hastie wrote in a Facebook post.

“Our government acknowledged his service with permanent residency. Sameer and his wife look forward to becoming Aussie citizens in coming years.”