Transforming Lives

Every day, all over the world, USAID brings peace to those who endure violence, health to those who struggle with sickness, and prosperity to those who live in poverty. It is these individuals — these uncounted thousands of lives — that are the true measure of USAID’s successes and the true face of USAID's programs.

From December 8-9, Afghan businesswomen from around the country gathered in Kabul for a two-day exhibition. The event, which was sponsored by USAID’s Trade Access and Facilitation for Afghanistan (TAFA) program, enabled the businesswomen to sell their quality products to a diverse clientele consisting of Afghans and expatriates.

In a first for southern Afghanistan, a month-long program of youth forums gave hundreds of young Afghans the chance to discuss citizenship and governance and ways to make their municipal authorities more representative and more responsive. USAID’s Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations (RAMP UP) South worked closely with the mayors of Kandahar, Lashkar Gah, Qalat, Tirin Kot, Nili and Zaranj to organize the forums, which drew about 600 people.

Over 600 students at Sardar Kabuli Girls’ High School in Kabul were recently inspired by a talk from four Afghan women engineering students from Kabul University. Sharing their diverse experiences, the speakers focused on how they are achieving their life goals through higher education.

The Jalalabad-based Food Production Company is a successful business with steady growth since 2009, when it was established. In 2011, the company began receiving more orders for its fruit jams, juices, ketchup and chili sauce than they could produce. Owner Mohammad Ashraf knew it was time to expand and add more retailers in Jalalabad, Kabul and other key cities on Afghanistan, but he didn’t have enough capital to finance the expansion.

“We are ready for the future! Maw tars nadaraim (We are not afraid)” declared Sima Tabib, head of Aziz National Furniture and one of Afghanistan’s most respected business leaders.

As she stood in line with 29 other women, Lima Khurram finally felt she was ready and able to serve her country. Lima, a 24-year-old mathematics graduate from Kabul University, had just completed a USAID-sponsored, four-month Women in Government internship.

That is changing. Working closely with Shahjoy community leaders and the municipality of Qalat, capital of Zabul, the USAID-funded Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations – South (RAMP UP) launched a pilot project to transform the city. The pilot project was meant to engage Shahjoy’s 56,000 residents in the business licensing process. This includes paying a business license tax. Ever since, the bazaar - one of the largest in the region - has been cleaned up and more than 530 businesses licensed.

Several factors heighten food insecurity in Bangladesh, among them natural disasters, poor health and hygiene services, and chronic deprivation of the socially vulnerable.  According to government figures, around 40 percent of the population is food insecure, meaning that 65 million people consume less than the minimum daily recommended amount of food.

Shahida, who does not use a last name, has always been strong and optimistic, even when times have been tough; and times have often been tough. Forced to become the second wife of a much older man at the age of 14, Shahida soon became the mother of three children. Ten years ago, her husband left her and her children, never sending money to support them. Then, in 2007, Cyclone Sidr destroyed all of her household belongings, after which she resorted to begging to buy food for her family.


Last updated: January 15, 2015