Alem with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines in Helmand, Afghanistan.
Alem with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines in Helmand, Afghanistan.

Alem Haidary

Alem Haidary, Nouveau Afghan Co-founder and Master Weaver, is on a journey to bring opportunity and stability to his family and community. He moved to Kabul as a small child to learn the art of rug weaving, but when the Taliban swept to power in the mid 90s, he and his family fled to Pakistan. There, amidst the refugee camps of Peshawar, he honed his rug-crafting talent and earned just enough money to attend English lessons at a local school. When NATO and Afghan troops pushed the Taliban out of Kabul in 2001, he returned home. For Alem the NATO troop surge was an opportunity to bring education and democracy to his country. He bid his family goodbye and joined U.S. Marines as an interpreter in the violent southwestern province of Helmand.

Rucker Culpepper

Alem was assigned to Rucker’s marine infantry platoon at Combat Outpost Sharp (CBS, 2009). Alem had been eating, sleeping, and patrolling with marines for years when he met Rucker. He was the eyes, ears, and organizational memory of the unit as they sought to disentangle a web of warring factions. Alem and his family were endangered by his support for NATO troops, and he had no choice but to spend all of his savings to move himself and his family into hiding. It was then that Alem and Rucker decided to leverage Alem’s expertise and relationships in the luxury rug trade to start Nouveau Afghan, create opportunity for Alem’s family and community, and change Afghanistan.

Rucker Culpepper, Wafa Dar CEO
Nabi Safari, Wafa Dar

Nabi Safari

Haji Nabi’s story is that of the American Dream if it were pursued in Afghanistan. He began as a weaver himself, borrowed some cash to build his own loom, and bootstrapped a small business. He even managed to connect the other artisans in his community to international markets and grow the business, but he lost it all when he was conscripted into the Soviet-backed Communist Army of Afghanistan. When the Soviets withdrew, he restarted his business from scratch, but the Taliban soon swept to power, and he found himself rebuilding again in Peshawar, Pakistan. Haji Nabi was able to pay the exorbitant price charged for safe passage to Pakistan, but most artisans in his community could not, so one by one, he purchased their way to Peshawar as well. Alem grew up in this community that revered Haji Nabi. Though Alem had never met Haji Nabi, he knew of him by reputation. When Alem and Rucker decided to start Nouveau Afghan, Alem reached out to Haji Nabi and a partnership was born.

Mateen Safari

Mateen is the son of Haji Nabi. Mateen spends half his day in school and half his day working for his father and will soon graduate high school in 2016. He has a passion for hand-knotted rugs that can only come from having lived it his whole life. When he graduates from high school, he plans to attend university, either in Kabul or the United States, and continue in the rug industry.

Mateen Safari, Wafa Dar Executive
Hazara, weaver, Afghanistan, rug, carpet, artisan, handmade, heirloom

Driving Social Change

Nouveau Afghan joined with Nabi to drive social change in Afghanistan along three primary lines of effort:

1.  The Wafa Dar Strategic Education Fund;

2.  Protecting and empowering women and children; and

3.  Countering violent extremists like ISIS, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and others.

Every sale supports these efforts in a variety of ways.

Roya

Roya is a Master Weaver with more than two decades of rug crafting experience. She weaves so that her two daughters, Ara and Sahar, can study. Ara, the eldest daughter, wants to be a doctor. She is determined and says she will leave for a foreign country by herself if she must, but she hopes to stay in the country she loves. Sahar, the youngest, wants to be a journalist, but her father worries for her in a country that can be very dangerous for journalists. She is undeterred.

Roya, Wafa Dar, Afghan woman, artisan, weaver, rug, carpet, handmade, handicraft, hand-knotted
Roya, Wafa Dar, Afghan Artisan

Sameera

Sameera has been weaving for twelves years, since moving to Kabul from the countryside. She and her husband have two boys and three girls. The eldest boy and girl attend private english lessons from 5am to 7am, public school during the day, and then they help their mother with weaving in the evenings. Sameera hopes for enough weaving work to send her youngest children to private English lessons as well (English lessons are a core component of the Wafa Dar Strategic Education Fund). Roya and Sameera are representative of nearly 500 weaving families in their community who stand to benefit from our plan to mobilize artisans.

Founding Team

Alem Haidary

Rucker Culpepper

Garrett Fucci

Mateen Safari

Colleen McCanna

Cory Kampf

An investment in your family’s home is an investment in another family’s future.

An investment in your family’s home is an investment in another family’s future.