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.

Farmer to Farmer volunteer Dr. James McNitt climbed two hours to reach the site of his rabbit production assignment in the remote mountain village of Cajun in Haiti. Families in this region earn an average of less than $300 a year.

Rabbits are an important source of food and income in remote places like Cajun. They are easy to manage, require little space, breed prolifically, and are a good source of protein. The people of Cajun had attempted to raise rabbits before, but failed due to disease, parasites, and other problems they could not diagnose.

Pierrot Marcel was born in Jeremie, an isolated town in western Haiti where services, supplies, and communication lines with the urban centers are scarce. Children rarely finish secondary school and many depend on menial jobs to survive. The average income ranges from $90-$300 per year.

Juliette Luesée is a 21-month old girl from Poussière, a rural village in the county of Jeremie, southwest Haiti. She has pneumonia. It is her third bout of the illness since she was born.

This time, Juliette is being treated at one of 60 USAID-supported mobile medical clinics that make monthly visits to villages near Jeremie in an effort to curb the fatality rates for pneumonia-related deaths. Pneumonia is the second leading cause of death in Haiti among children under five. In southwest Haiti, USAID’s program has cut those rates in half.

Naomi Jean runs around like a typical 5-year-old. Her chocolate-colored eyes reveal a bright mind, curious about everything she sees. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago she was lying in a hospital bed in critical condition.

Faced with rapid growth and the limited availability of qualified human resources, Haiti’s microfinance industry needed access to sustainable microfinance training services.

With USAID support, the National Association of Microfinance Institutions in Haiti launched a new training center, marking a major milestone for the country’s microfinance sector. The association works to improve the professionalism of its 17 microfinance institution members, which provide financial services to microentrepreneurs not served by traditional financial institutions.

Twenty-year-old Jefferson St. Louis from Carrefour-Feuilles, one of Port-au-Prince’s largest slums, comes from a family of six. Poverty forced Jefferson to drop out of school before age 10. Like most Haitian youth, he wanted an opportunity to learn a skill and provide for his family.

The poor quality of education and a lack of finances to pay school fees have left an estimated 500,000 youth out of school and on the streets in Haiti. Most have never attended primary school or have dropped out before grade three.

Sogesol (Société Générale de Solidarité, French for “General Society of Solidarity”) inaugurated a full-service microfinance branch in the heart of Cité Soleil, one of Port-au-Prince’s most volatile neighborhoods that has served as the base for much of Haiti’s destabilizing gang activity. Years of violence and crime have driven many businesses out of the neighborhood. With support from USAID, Sogesol is reigniting economic activity in this highly vulnerable zone.

Imagine a childhood spent growing up among gangsters: a child obliged to take shelter under chairs in a classroom while waiting for the end of shootings, or a teenager confronted with other people’s fear solely because he happens to live in a high-risk neighborhood. Such is the life for youth in Haiti’s Cité Soleil, one of the largest slums of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where violence is the standard.

While working towards his degree in finance from Haiti’s Quisqueya University, Makendy Pierre participated in a USAID-sponsored internship in microfinance. Since his internship and graduation, he has become the director of a branch of Fonkoze, one of the country’s largest and most innovative microfinance institutions, in the rural, mountain town of Trouin.

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Last updated: January 08, 2014