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.

For many years, Nasirin “Kah Nas” Taraji and other fishers in the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi occupied one of the area’s best sites for collecting fish with “fish pens” or “corrals”. They enjoyed relatively good yields, but elsewhere in their town, fish catches were declining at a rate fast enough to alarm local officials and the fishing communities.

Bhim Bahadur, a poor farmer in the rural Kaski district of Nepal, had given up hope that his life would ever improve. The yield from his small piece of land earned him so meager an income that he could not support his family of eight. His annual income amounted to just $57.

“When I come to visit the village, women say ‘Mira is coming, she must have something new for us,’” says Mira Sunar, a female community health worker, describing her relationship with the villagers of Ramnagar, Nepal. “I feel proud and empowered by my popularity and recognition in the village.”

Man Maya Lama and her husband own a small tea shop in Manikapur village in Nepal's mid-western Banke district, but they struggle to earn enough to feed their two children. When USAID's Flood Recovery Program started its income-generation activities in their district, Lama jumped at the opportunity to get involved. She desperately wanted to improve her family's finances, and the only solution apparent to her was optimizing the use of the family-owned land. The acreage was small but that wasn't the main problem; her agricultural skills and knowledge were rudimentary and obsolete.

Unlike their male counterparts, it is difficult for female students in Afghanistan to hold part-time jobs where they can apply their education in real-life experiences. A fourth year architecture student explained, “Being a woman, we face lots of challenges in this field. The most common problem for women is that we have less opportunity for site visits and meeting professional people.”

The village of Yazgulam in Gorno Badakhshan District was one of the hotbeds of Tajikistan’s civil war from 1992 to 1997. Although the war ended years ago, Yazgulam’s inhabitants were still afraid of the militants that continued to wander around the village. “Safety was the main concern. I didn’t have high hopes that this place would ever improve,” said resident Khafiz Azoraev.

After anchoring “Our City, Our Home,” a radio show made possible by USAID’s Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations (RAMP UP)-South, Ozra Ahmady found her voice, as well as a platform to promote citizen engagement in municipal services. 
“What I have seen and learned here has given me courage. Now I want to open my own computer business in Kabul.”
When Mariam Jawad arrived at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in the fall semester of 2010, she entered a library for the first time in her life. She also used a computer for the first time and eventually sent her first email. For a 19-year-old woman who speaks three languages and dreams of becoming a businesswoman, this is surprising.


Last updated: February 27, 2014