By Iain Ramage
A soldier who risks his life with the British Army and UN peacekeeping force is struggling to win a fight for a visa that would allow his young daughter to move to Scotland.
Kenyan-born soldier Denis Omondi has fought tirelessly to secure a visa to enable his only child, 14-year-old Ann, to travel from their homeland and join him and his wife Shelagh in Inverness.
The Fort George-based lance-corporal only learned he had a daughter seven years ago. He now has sole custody, provides for her and returns to Kenya at every opportunity to be with her.
But that’s not enough, according to the UK Government which has consistently refused a visa.
While he’s survived tours of Afghanistan and Iraq during eight years’ service with the Black Watch, this very personal challenge has taken its toll.
Mr Omondi said: “My message to the Home Office is if they have children who they care about they should just understand how a father feels when your only daughter is away from him, that’s the only thing.”
Persistent political pressure has come to nothing. In January, the Prime Minister praised Mr Omondi for his military service and promised to look into the case.
The issue was raised at Westminster again this week.
Drew Hendry MP, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, said: “‘Your army needs you’ is a recruitment call-out.
“The website details the many benefits of joining including the promises of child and adult safeguarding and support for emotional wellbeing, and all sanctioned and promoted by the Ministry of Defence – promises that will seem pretty hollow if the UK Government fail to do the right thing by someone they’ve called to serve for them.”
The ordeal has been an additional burden for Mrs Omondi, who is recovering from breast cancer.
She said: “Denis has written a blank cheque with his life. The least this country can do is to give him the family life that he should have.
“It should allow him to be a dad. At the moment he’s doing everything he can but it’s not enough, it’s not everything that girl needs.”
In a statement, the UK Government said Mr Omondi’s application was being reviewed, and that it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.