New Pictures!

Everyone likes great pictures, and so do we. Just moments ago, we uploaded a fresh batch of images from the last few months in Afghanistan.

Click
HERE to see them on our pictures page!

We hope you enjoy seeing more pictures of a place that has riveted our heart and captured our imagination.

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Funding Needs for 2011

With the New Year just weeks away, we are given a great opportunity to reflect on the things that matter the most. For us at Noshaq, our greatest desire is to serve the people of Afghanistan in the most effective and heartfelt way possible. But we can’t do this alone. We need you to partner with us in this mission.

As you reflect on what matters the most to you this holiday season, we’d like to encourage you to give generously towards Noshaq’s financial needs this upcoming year.


#1. Construction of Dirt Access Road (Village D)
Without access to market centers and trade routes across the country, Village D’s economic future is severely stunted. Noshaq hopes to address this problem through the construction of an access road, which would allow cars and freight trucks to travel in close proximity to the village. This would enable them to transport goods and produce more easily and would open up trade opportunities with urban centers.
Construction of the 2.5-mile road will be done using hand tools and community-sourced labor to minimize cost and provide jobs to needy families.
Fundraising Goal: $18,000

Noshaq will be converting this trail into a road.


#2: Construction of Suspension Bridge (Village D)
Not only is Village D isolated -- it’s also located on the side of a mountain. These conditions make thriving agriculture a dim prospect, with only 30 jerabs (12 acres) of sloped land to grow enough food for 100 families. If Village D is going to improve its agriculture, it is going to need more land.

Across the river that runs below the village is farmable land owned by Village D. Unfortunately, the river is swollen during the growing season, which blocks access to this much-needed land. If villagers could just access this extra acreage, their amount of agricultural land would instantly double, allowing them to increase their crops and better provide for their families.

Noshaq will be constructing a suspension bridge across the river, enabling farmers to grow more crops and setting the stage for future agricultural improvement.
Fundraising Goal: $20,000

The future location of the suspension bridge. Picture taken in the Fall, when the river is at its lowest level.


#3. Honey Farm (Village D)
Village D’s land might be rugged, but in the Springtime, the surrounding mountains light up with high desert wildflowers. These flowers offer the potential for a new industry in their community: honey. Honeybees thrive on these wildflowers and provide villagers the opportunity to produce a product that’s both profitable and full of nutrition.

Noshaq will be utilizing local Afghan trainers from other parts of the country who are already skilled in honey production to spread the knowledge of this industry to Village D. Funds will be needed to provide training and to purchase bees and supplies for the first 10 hives. Villagers will be able to sell this honey at the nearest bazaar for roughly $8 per jar, giving them a valuable source of supplemental income.
Fundraising Goal: $3,300

A honey industry will enrich villager’s lives both
economically and nutritionally.




#4. 4-Wheel-Drive Vehicle
For us, 4WD is not a convenience - it’s a necessity. Our projects focus on villages in the far reaches of Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains, areas often deemed unreachable. We look for rural, isolated communities that have received very little humanitarian attention because of their location. That leaves us with a demanding logistical challenge: getting there. Reaching these places can mean lung-burning hikes up the side of a mountain or multiple-day, brain-jarring drives on tracks of dirt that can barely be called roads. Although numerous villages are only accessible by trail, the drive to the trailhead is a crucial part of the expedition. These trips subject the vehicle to a tremendous amount of stress as it careens over big rocks and gulleys, climbs up steep hills, and plunges through gushing water.

That’s where a strong set of wheels enters the picture. Because Noshaq does not own a vehicle, all transportation must be rented. Rental arrangements are negotiated carefully, but end up being an expensive and often unreliable arrangement. Most of the vehicles available for rent are no match for the roads that we need to travel on.

We can’t emphasize enough our need to own a strong and dependable 4WD vehicle. We’re not looking for frills - just sheer practicality!

Fundraising Goal: $15,000




#5. Field Office Overhead
This isn’t our favorite one to share with you. Anyone who runs a business or organization will grimace when they hear that nasty little word called overhead. It’s what pays the rent, keeps the lights on, and pays the employees. It maintains our baseline operation so that we can focus most of our energy on projects. Paying the bills isn’t exciting or fun, but it is important.

Noshaq operates in rural, out-of-the-way places, and because of this, our overhead expenses can be daunting. In order to operate effectively, we have to run two offices (one in the provincial capital, the other in our project area). We strive to keep overhead expenses as low as possible by minimizing compound comforts and keeping all foreign staff on a volunteer-basis. But expenses still add up. We are looking for people who realize that overhead is just as important as project money. Please consider helping us cover our monthly operating expenses by donating to overhead.

Monthly Fundraising Goal: $3,000

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Why Economic Development?

Every year, multiple millions of dollars are spent on humanitarian assistance all around the globe. Even so, world hunger rates are still staggering, scores of third world villages are still eking out a primitive existence, and the globe is still awash in poverty. This has left many people scratching their heads and wondering: “Is aid really working?”

We’ve asked ourselves the very same thing. It disgusts us when we hear of federal aid and donated funds being absorbed in graft and deceit. And it’s sad to see thousands of dollars spent on a project, only to find the beneficiaries poorer, less motivated, and more dependent than before. What are we doing wrong?



In an age of disillusionment, what is most effective way to serve?


The condition of today’s developing countries makes it clear that the need for humanitarian assistance is far from over. The question, then, is not “should we proceed?”, but “how should we proceed?”. As a nonprofit organization passionate about genuinely helping people, how can we do so in a way that’s effective, efficient, and enduring? How can we address development needs by building capacity instead of harmful dependencies? And how can our constituents be empowered to eventually fund their own development?

The answer to this dilemma seems to be in identifying the fundamental foundation of development, for once this foundation is laid, all other aspects of community development can be built on top. We believe this foundation is a thriving economy. When a community’s economy is healthy, the standard of living increases, poverty is reduced, and new infrastructure is built and maintained. As a result, many families are enabled to transition from a subsistence lifestyle to one where education, health, and community enrichment are tangible opportunities. When taken in the proper context, economic development can begin a chain reaction that will inherently work to solve many other needs in the community, thus fostering an environment where the community can fund their own development and take responsibility for their future long after Noshaq is gone.

With this realization, Noshaq has made economic development its primary mission. We don’t claim to have all the answers, and neither do we believe that all other aid groups should “think like us”. Rather, we’ve made a personal commitment to strive for development solutions that are effective, efficient, and enduring. To do otherwise would be a waste of our time and destructive to the communities we love and serve.
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Noshaq Announces New Projects

Following a productive few months of project selection and gaining government and local support, Noshaq is happy to announce three exciting projects for 2011. This project area is a fascinating one indeed. Located among terrain that looks like it walked out of a topo map and positioned in an area largely shut off from the rest of Afghanistan, it is truly out in the middle of nowhere. But it’s not just the mountains and scenery that rivet us. It’s the people. People who live grueling lives of poverty. People who need hope. And people who we now call friends.

Village D
Objective: To enable Village D to become economically self-sufficient over the next 5 years.

Ongoing Projects: Construction of access road, construction of suspension bridge, and development of honey industry.

Total Budget: $41,300

Meet Village D. Although we’re not able to reveal its name or specific location data due to security precautions, this village truly encapsulates Noshaq’s mission and gives us a thrilling opportunity to partner with their community for a better future.

Our team initially made contact with Village D following consultations with local government officials, who backed our endeavors through official introduction letters and security escort. This village was chosen because it closely matched pre-determined criteria, which included no road, mountainous terrain, high poverty levels, little or no NGO involvement, and reasonable security.


Villagers enjoy a community moment as they pose for the camera.

Just getting to Village D is a challenge in itself. After many hours of 4-wheel-drive on an eroded track, the road ends and the hike begins. It’s not until several hours of vigorous hiking and roughly 5,000 ft. of elevation change that Village D finally comes into view. This village isn’t just at the end of the road. It’s beyond the end of the road.

Village D has many needs which we won’t bog you down with. But the most prominent need of all is its complete lack of an internal economy. Because of the village’s isolation and challenging terrain, it has been unable to engage in commerce or trade with surrounding areas. Instead, it relies entirely on repatriated income sources. To survive, each family sends one or two young men to find work in other parts of the country. Some even travel as far as Iran in hopes of finding a job to support their family back in Village D. This complete reliance on external income puts the community on a shaky course for economic collapse.


An elder from Village D smiles during a Noshaq planning session.

Our Objective: To enable Village D to become economically self-sufficient over the next 5 years.

Whenever we begin working with a village, our biggest priorities are friendship and community acceptance. Village D is no exception. We didn’t arrive there with a host of pre-conceived project ideas. Instead, project selection developed organically after assessing the needs ourselves and holding open conversations with the village chief and community elders. The results revealed three key needs in the village:

1. Access
2. Agriculture
3. Income

To begin tackling these three challenges, Noshaq and village elders identified three projects to begin our efforts in Village D.

Project 1 - Access: Construction of Dirt Access Road
Without access to market centers and trade routes across the country, Village D’s economic future is severely stunted. Noshaq hopes to address this problem through the construction of an access road, which would allow cars and freight trucks to travel in close proximity to the village. This would enable them to transport goods and produce more easily and would open up trade opportunities with urban centers.
Construction of the 2.5-mile road will be done using hand tools and community-sourced labor to minimize cost and provide jobs to needy families.
Estimated Cost: $18,000

Noshaq will be converting this trail into a road.


Project 2 - Agriculture: Construction of Suspension Bridge
Not only is Village D isolated -- it’s also located on the side of a mountain. These conditions make thriving agriculture a dim prospect, with only 30 jerabs (12 acres) of sloped land to grow enough food for 100 families. If Village D is going to improve its agriculture, it is going to need more land.

Across the river that runs below the village is farmable land owned by Village D. Unfortunately, the river is swollen during the growing season, which blocks access to this much-needed land. If villagers could just access this extra acreage, their amount of agricultural land would instantly double, allowing them to increase their crops and better provide for their families.

Noshaq will be constructing a suspension bridge across the river, enabling farmers to grow more crops and setting the stage for future agricultural improvement.
Estimated Cost: $20,000

The future location of the suspension bridge. Picture taken in the Fall, when the river is at its lowest level.


Project 3 - Income: Honey Farm
Village D’s land might be rugged, but in the Springtime, the surrounding mountains light up with high desert wildflowers. These flowers offer the potential for a new industry in their community: honey. Honeybees thrive on these wildflowers and provide villagers the opportunity to produce a product that’s both profitable and full of nutrition.

Noshaq will be utilizing local Afghan trainers from other parts of the country who are already skilled in honey production to spread the knowledge of this industry to Village D. Funds will be needed to provide training and to purchase bees and supplies for the first 10 hives. Villagers will be able to sell this honey at the nearest bazaar for roughly $8 per jar, giving them a valuable source of supplemental income.
Estimated Cost: $3,300

A honey industry will enrich villager’s lives both
economically and nutritionally.
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