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.

Life is not easy for Iris Cálix. Her two-year-old daughter has a medical condition that requires treatment in the capital city of Tegucigalpa in Honduras once a month. This involves a long trip, most of it on dirt roads. Although her daughter’s special needs take up much of her time, this does not stop her from being the only woman to volunteer at the Community Health Center in the rural community of Zacate Blanco. Iris is one of eight volunteers who give of their time every day to educate their community.

Jose Gomez, who successfully completed drug rehabilitation treatment at Proyecto Victoria, now works as a volunteer at the Center. Proyecto Victoria, a residential center for drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation, is the only hope for many Hondurans addicted to drugs and alcohol. There are approximately sixty young men undergoing therapy at the Center at any given time. The residents work the land at the Center to grow crops used by its residents.

With USAID support over a seven-year period, a new Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) became effective in early 2002. The CPC introduced changes to the criminal justice system in Honduras, including oral adversarial trials, transparent procedures, and greater protections for individual rights. Implementation of this new system required a series of efforts. Among the most important initiatives were changing the country’s perception of the criminal justice system and educating citizens and administrators of this new system.

Small farmers in Honduras have traditionally planted corn, beans and coffee, mostly for subsistence. Any surplus was sold on the local market, earning small profits. With the possible ratification of international trade agreements, Honduran small farmers need to become more competitive to remain viable and profitable in the global marketplace. And while sweet potatoes were traditionally grown in small volumes for the local market, farmers did not have international networks or the expertise to produce a high-quality crop.

Fidel Caballero owns the cheese plant Lácteos Palmares and is one of many artisan cheese producers in Honduras who struggled to provide quality products for local and international markets. Although his plant has been around for more than 40 years and is considered a pioneer in cheese production, it has grown slowly due to poor infrastructure, equipment, expertise and marketing.

Since 1992, the population of Villanueva, a city located about 10 miles from Honduras' industrial capital San Pedro Sula, has doubled. The number of people migrating from rural to urban areas to work at manufacturing plants has increased substantially over the same period and spurred most of Villanueva's growth. Without a long-term growth and development plan, within the next 15 years, Villanueva could become a chaotic city of people demanding services that the municipality cannot provide. Improving access to potable water and sanitation services is critical to Villanueva's development.

In the Taulabe, Comayagua region of Honduras, small sugar processors make a product called rapadura - a hard brown sugar that is sold in the local market. Traditionally, sugar cane processors had burned firewood as their primary source of fuel - however, firewood was becoming increasingly scarce. Processors shifted to the burning of old tires for fuel, causing environmental pollution, a low quality product, and serious health hazards to those who tend the fires and nearby communities.

Luis Flores was a sales manager for a small produce distributor in La Esperanza, a rural town in the highlands of central Honduras. Through this experience, he became aware of the market demands and requirements in the major Honduran cities of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. He observed that the main problem was not the lack of demand, but the lack of supply of locally produced cold climate vegetables.

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.

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Last updated: January 12, 2015