Afghanistan. Following the events that transpired on September 11, 2001, this obscure Central Asian country rocketed into the consciousness of millions across the globe. The mainstream media’s extensive coverage of the Afghan conflict has left many with the impression that the country is a dangerous wasteland riddled with roadside bombs and turbaned terrorists. To the average person, however, Afghanistan has little connection with their daily lives outside of the war on terror.
For those of us at Noshaq, Afghanistan is intensely personal. But it hasn’t always been that way. The birth of our organization was the result of a journey—a journey of service, adventure, and unexpected turns.
If you were to ask Noshaq founder Luther Whiting in early 2001 to locate Afghanistan on a map, he would have failed the test. Hardly realizing that Afghanistan was even a country, most of his thoughts about the place were associated with the “Afghans” that his mom used to drape over their living room couch. The 6,000-mile distance between his home in the United States and Afghanistan formed what seemed to be a permanent barrier that would never be breached.
On October 7, 2001, things changed. Along with millions of other Americans, Luther heard the news that the United States had invaded Afghanistan. He was young at the time, but a spark had been lit that would later result in bigger things.
Fast-forward to several years later. Absorbed in his studies, Afghanistan was the last thing on Luther’s mind. For him, getting good grades and receiving his diploma were much more relevant than the war that continued to rage in Central Asia. Then came the news that would change the course of his life forever: his parents were heading to Afghanistan on a humanitarian mission. At first taken aback, he began to look forward to what this new twist in his life would bring.
Before traveling to the country to visit his parents, Luther was expecting to find a country that matched the stereotypes he envisioned in his head: bombs, danger, desolation. Instead, he found a country with stunning geography, beautiful people, and a fascinating culture. But more than that, he discovered a country with tremendous needs. He spent time talking with Afghans and heard their stories of heartache and tragedy. He also observed how the war had shaken the country to its very core and knew he would never be the same again.
Luther soon returned to the States but vowed to do something about the things he had seen in Afghanistan. He later returned to the country as a volunteer aid worker. During this time, he began to see the valuable role that small businesses and industries could play in rebuilding the country and empowering its citizens. He realized that fusing the business and nonprofit sectors would create an enormous opportunity to make a sustainable difference in Afghanistan from the grassroots level up in a way that had rarely been done before.
Many emails, phone calls, and stacks of paperwork later, Noshaq was born. This time, it was a team effort. A group of individuals with previous development experience in Afghanistan and a passion for helping the country were brought together to form the leadership backbone of the organization.
It’s been an exciting journey that will continue. As Noshaq works to instill hope in Afghanistan, we realize that we can’t do this on our own. We would urge you to catch the vision and partner with us through your input, resources, and financial donations. You too can help write the rest of Our Story.