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.

Children in Basra, in southern Iraq, face numerous impediments to their education, from overcrowded classrooms to the lack of hygienic washrooms, desks and teaching aids. Yet, those living in the Al Resala community in Central Basra faced an even more looming threat: for years, they have dodged cars and prayed for their lives simply to walk to school.

In 1999, Ari Hishyar Sedeq Hassan moved to Germany where he worked in a bakery in the small town of Gronau, producing Black Forest Rye Bread, cinnamon buns, and Kaiser Rolls. Thirteen years later, Ari decided to return home to Dahuk in northern Iraq.

Amid all the uncertainties of modern Iraq there is one immutable constant: when summer arrives temperatures in Baghdad soar to more than 120º F and stay there for several months. This seasonal reality is especially discomforting for motorists mired in traffic. Today, however, comfort levels are rising as thousands of Baghdadis trade in their old clunkers for late model air conditioned cars.

Kindergarteners Omar and Zahra’a remember the day their friend Hassan was killed by a passing car while playing on a neighborhood street.

The Ministry of Public Health’s Central Medical Stores (CMS) was badly damaged in war and poorly maintained for more than 20 years. Despite being the Ministry’s central warehouse for pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, the CMS became a dumping ground for obsolete or damaged equipment, and had no procedures for selling or disposing of unneeded goods.  An impressive collection of broken wheelchairs, beds, boilers, fire extinguishers, exhaust fans, heating equipment, and other goods were strewn about haphazardly.

Dickens Alyao is no stranger to the fear and uncertainty associated with HIV. Ten years ago, he tested positive for HIV while on active duty in the military. Today, at 46, Alyao is the father of six children (all of whom are HIV negative) and an active USAID-trained network support agent in his home community of Aloi, Lira district.

For a local policeman, joining efforts with a USAID program to address sexual and gender-based violence in his community was a welcome challenge.

“I have daughters myself and am concerned about this issue. I had heard about sexual and gender-based violence before, but honestly, when USAID came and talked to the entire community about it for the fi rst time, much of the information was new – particularly the connection between sexual and gender-based violence and HIV transmission,” said Okot Paul, the sub-country police post in-charge.

Farmers near Kayunga, Uganda, rely on the income generated from sun drying fruit and selling it in bulk to local and European markets. Fruit takes two to three days to dry completely, and even a small amount of rainfall during the drying period can damage a harvest. The absence of basic access to information in developing countries limits the ability of rural populations to receive warnings, forecasts, and observations of hydro-meteorological conditions to improve their livelihoods.

One gray midmorning, during the season of short rains in rural Tanzania’s western highlands, about 30 men and women take valuable hours away from farming and domestic chores to gather at a village meeting place. The mood is relaxed, despite the task at hand — HIV/AIDS counseling and testing.

In this impoverished and remote region, HIV infection is of growing concern. Much of the community lacks awareness about how the disease is transmitted, and there is a relatively low reliance on condoms, the only means of prevention besides abstinence.

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Last updated: January 12, 2015