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New Beginnings in Northern Afghanistan

Afghanistan, January 24, 2003

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    Dr. Foushanji and his daughter Hadia. Photo: Cassandra Markham Nelson/Mercy Corps Photo:

"I want to spend a little and do big things," says Dr. Mohammad Nasser Foushanji, Mercy Corps' Finance Manager and Liaison Officer for Local Government in northern Afghanistan. Not a surprising statement coming from a man who has already done many very big things in his life.

Sitting with Dr. Foushanji in his home one is struck with the impression of meeting someone larger than life, but who does not realize it. He recounts tales of his adventurous life as he holds his baby daughter, Hadia, tenderly on his lap.

Stories of his past experiences as Head of War Surgery and Health Affairs Committee for the mujahideen under Commander Massoud in the fight against the Taliban are punctuated by his gracious offers of yet another cup of tea.

During the chaotic fighting with the Taliban, Dr. Foushanji and his family were separated. Eventually they were reunited through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) family reunification program.

"I had to flee three times to escape the Taliban," recounts Dr. Foushanji. "First to Pakistan, then to Tajikistan and another time to Panshjir. When the Taliban took over Taloqan I finally went to Faizabad where I eventually joined Mercy Corps in May 2001."

After a life of high adventure, Dr. Foushanji has settled easily into his new career with Mercy Corps.

"He is a fast-learner, says Joerg Denker, Mercy Corps' Program Manager in Northern Afghanistan. "We had challenges in training someone who had not done finance work previously, but I am proud to say that now we let him run with finance and he can clearly account for everything."

"I rely on Dr. Foushanji for a lot more than just finance," says Rod Volway Mercy Corps Spot Reconstruction Officer in Taloqan. "He is involved in projects and assists with community and local government relations and acts as our local security liaison."

"He is very well-respected in Taloqan," says Denker. "Time and again, his excellent communication skills and diplomacy have smoothed relationships and put things into place so we can do our work."