“My heart is in pieces” – Bude resident’s friend stuck in Afghanistan

Update 29th August:

Pen Farthing, and most of his animals are in the UK, but now attempts are being made to bring his staff (who are entitled to be here) safely home. For those who complained about animals being brought to the UK, they were placed in the hold of the plane, not an area in which humans are placed. He did have to let some go, incidentally.

Today, Pen tweeted:

Arrived Heathrow with partial success of #OpArk Mixed emotions & true deep feeling of sadness for Afghan today. Heathrow Ops centre, Border Force, HARC & Air Pets were all bloody amazing. Witnessed 1st hand the compassion Heathrow is showing Afghan refugees.


Update: 26th August.


Pen has written on Twitter: Dear Sir (Suhail Shaheen, Taliban leader) my team & my animals are stuck at airport circle. We have a flight waiting. Can you please facilitate safe passage into the airport for our convoy? We are an NGO who will come back to Afghanistan but right now I want to get everyone out safely.

He states that, despite the fact that they have a flight waiting, they have been stuck for 10-hours, and many of the animals will die from the heat if not allowed out of their crates soon. He has raised more than £200,000 to get his workers out on a charter flight – with more than 100 animals in the cargo hold.

Many people are now questioning whether the animals should be left behind, and human lives put first. The sad truth is there is room for both in an aircraft as animals travel in the hold where humans are not housed.

We previously wrote on B & B:

As all hell breaks loose in Afghanistan, regardless of our views on the politics of the subject, we all feel powerless to really help.

I have been in touch with Bude’s Caroline Wakefield, who is understandably deeply concerned about a friend who rescues animals out there, a man called Pen Farthing. You have probably seen him in the national press and on social media.

Pen runs the Nowzad animal rescue charity.

Courageously, Pen has refused to leave Afghanistan until all his staff and the animals his charity has rescued can be taken out to safety.

The staff at Nowzad are currently stuck in Afghanistan as this Facebook video shows. His charity, Nowzad, wants ministers to “do the right thing” by flying 71 people to the UK from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized the capital city. The staff have not yet received a secure, safe corridor to the plane, including one  pregnant woman.

He is fearful for the futures of the country’s first female veterinary surgeons trained there, too. He told the BBC:

I don’t think there are words to describe what they are feeling right now. 

What do you say to someone who is probably going to be told they will have to marry a Taliban fighter and end up living at home, never being allowed to leave and just raising children with someone they absolutely detest?

Nowzad was founded in 2007 by Pen, a Former Royal Marine Commando. This, from the website, is how it happened:
Kilo Company of 42 Commando Royal Marines arrived in the war torn town of Now Zad in Helmand Province of Afghanistan in November 2006. Their mission was to provide stability for the local people during a period of ever decreasing security. The Royal Marines soon realised that it wasn’t only the local people that needed their help.
Many of the stray dogs that roamed the town of Now Zad now had a guardian for the first time in their lives, in the form of Sergeant Pen Farthing. Upon breaking up an organised dog fight, one of the dogs ‘adopted’ Pen as his only buddy. Naming the dog ‘Nowzad’ Pen could not leave his new four-legged friend behind, so he hatched a cunning plan to bring Nowzad from deep in Helmand Province to a new life in the English countryside.
Miraculously, his plan was successful, but Pen was soon inundated with requests from soldiers in the same position as he’d found himself in…
Thus the Nowzad Charity was born …
Their mission is to make a difference for all the dogs, cats and other animals with no voice.

The ‘tail‘ of the rescue of Nowzad and his other canine buddies from the remote desert outpost of Now Zad, was published as a best-selling book One Dog at a Time, which to this day helps to promote and fund the work they do in Afghanistan.Nowzad manages a dog shelter currently looking after over 140 dogs (most available for adoption) along with a cat shelter (over 40 cats and most available for adoption) supported by a modern veterinary clinic staffed by a team of 24 Afghan nationals (including Afghanistan’s first female veterinarians) delivering care and attention to animals in distress. They have also opened the first ever donkey sanctuary in Afghanistan, a vital facility for the overburdened donkeys worked remorselessly on the streets of Kabul.

It looks like their work will now be ending as the Taliban has taken control.

Caroline said:

About 10 years ago, I went to a talk where I met Pen, who told how whilst deployed in town Called Now Zad in Afghanistan, he rescued a dog this dog he named Nowzad.

After his deployment ended he brought Nowzad back to Devon and set up the charity which relocates rescued animals to safe countries, many reunited to the soldiers who rescued them.

You can donate by going to Nowzad .com

This money also rescues donkeys, and teaches the Afghan farmers how to properly care for them.  I have been a member of the Nowzad family since that day.

One rescue, Wylie, won the nation’s favourite crossbreed competition, Scrufts, although as with Nowzad, he has now passed on.

She adds:

My heart is in pieces. He’s such a special human and I am honoured to be his friend. 

How can you help for now?

  • Keep up to date with Nowzad on social media (Pen Farthing is also on Twitter) so you get a real picture of what is happening now.
  • Put pressure on our elected representatives to resolve the situation and to get these people (and ideally, animals) out of Kabul.
  • Consider rescuing an animal if any get back to the UK.
  • Help the charity with a donation if you can.

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