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.


Rural Guatemalan families that were already living in poverty and malnourished were severely affected in 2001 by natural disasters, a drop in export prices (particularly coffee), and a global economic recession. Among other consequences, these events precipitated a severe nutrition crisis, suddenly taking many lives, particularly among women and children.

BEFORE Few Guatemalan children are enrolled in preschool (43 percent), junior high (28 percent) or high school (16 percent), and only one in ten children who enters first grade makes it to tenth. Students enrolled in rural schools have only the most rudimentary of resources.

AFTER - As part of its effort to improve teaching resources and methodologies, USAID helped establish libraries at 1,000 primary schools in six of Guatemala's poorest states, including this rural school in Sumpango, Sacatepequez.

BEFORE - The World Health Organization does not consider traditional birth attendants sufficiently skilled to manage normal deliveries and diagnose, manage, and refer obstetric complications. USAID is supporting midwife training in villages across Guatemala. In the above photo, women are learning about systems of the human body in their language, Quiché. Small children often attend training sessions with their mothers, who do not have childcare options.

BEFORE - Wine, champagne, and beer bottles that are considered rubbish by most are thrown out at restaurants and residences in upscale neighborhoods in Guatemala City. A small team of artisans collects these bottles and transforms them into works of art. Before they met these bottles, these artisans were either unemployed or scraping a living as day laborers.

BEFORE - This building was renovated for the new 24-hour court, where suspects detained by the police are immediately given a hearing before a decision is made to send them to jail.

BEFORE - Farmers put their health and even their lives at risk when using slash and burn techniques. With little protection and little knowledge of safety procedures, Mayan farmers or hired workers often had serious or fatal accidents while burning fields in preparation for new crops to be planted.

José Luis Lux, a vegetable producer in the community of Chirijuyú in Guatemala’s Chimaltenango Department, and his family lived in extreme poverty. That changed in 1993 when his family led the community to establish an association of agricultural producers, Labradores Mayas (“Mayan Workers”), which sold vegetables to middlemen. With USAID support, the association strengthened production, became certified on international food regulation practices, and systematized administrative functions to comply with international buyer requirements.


Last updated: September 10, 2014