A FEMALE RAF linguist who has broken down language barriers in some of Afghanistan’s most dangerous areas is returning home following a six-month tour of duty.
Former Chesterfield air cadet, Laura Humphreys, 23, from Wingerworth, is one of just two women who speak the native language, Pashto, working alongside the Army in Helmand Province.
Laura – a former aerospace systems operator – will return to the UK on April 25, following six months working with the 5th Battalion The Rifles as part of the RAF’s female engagement team.
“I think the work she does is essential,” said mum, Nicki Humphreys.
“She goes wherever the army go, meeting the children, and the women and interpreting. There are a lot of things she can’t tell us about her experiences out there, but she has enjoyed interacting, especially at the checkpoints even though they are the most basic areas.
“It is there she gets to really meet the locals as they are.”
Laura spent 16 months learning Pashto in preparation for the role, which has seen her embark on her third tour of Afghanistan since she joined the RAF aged 18.
Speaking from Helmand, she said: “The warmth and character of the Afghan people has never failed to surprise me.
“Every day has been a challenge and it has been immensely rewarding.”
Amongst her duties on her current tour, Laura has been called in to help diffuse growing resentment over civilian deaths, and has been instrumental in liaising with Afghan families.
Nicki added: “We are really proud of her. Everything she has had to deal with out there, she has taken it on and dealt with it extremely well. Now we just can’t wait to have her back.”
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