One gave up a lucrative practice to give free dental care to children who had never seen a toothbrush. Others had devoted whole decades of their lives to helping the Afghan people through war and deprivation.
The years of service ended in a hail of bullets in a remote valley of a land that members of the medical team had learned to love.
The bodies of the 10 slain volunteers - six Americans, two Afghans, a German and a Briton - were flown Sunday back to Kabul by helicopter, even as friends and family bitterly rejected Taliban claims the group had tried to convert Afghans to Christianity.
Also flown to the capital was the lone survivor of the attack, an Afghan driver who said he was spared because he was a Muslim and recited Islamic holy verses as he begged for his life. The International Assistance Mission, which organized the trip, said the driver had been a trusted employee with four years of service.
Police said they don't know if he is a witness or an accomplice in the killings, claimed by the Taliban.