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.

Hamid Mikayilov owns Girkhbulag Trout Farm, located just outside the city of Sheki, in rural Azerbaijan. Over 40 percent of the country's population makes its livelihood from agribusiness, yet agriculture comprises only 6 percent of its GDP.

Using a USAID-sponsored grant, as well as his own resources, Mikayilov and his son, Anar, who operates the farm, rehabilitated an outdated feed mill located on the property.

The Central Bank of Azerbaijan is working hard to modernize the country's financial sector. In 2009, an important milestone was achieved when USAID assisted it in drafting legislation that met international standards in combatting serious financial crime. The Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism bill was successfully passed and established a Financial Monitoring Service (FMS) that was charged with enforcing the new financial sector requirements.

On first appearance, Vera Lesko seems like any gentle, good-humored, and loving Albanian mother. And she is. Yet, this countenance masks the determination that propelled her to the forefront of the battle against human trafficking in Albania. Her pioneering spirit and real life solutions have helped restore the lives of more than 1,600 trafficked Albanian girls and women.

For a small Balkan country that just 20 years ago was completely closed to foreigners, Albania has come a long way to overcome its isolation, building both infrastructure and a reputation for hospitality that has grown a burgeoning travel industry. In fact, Lonely Planet travel guides currently list Albania as one of this year's top 10 travel and tourism destinations in the world.

Ferdinand Gjata began his business after the communist regime in Albania fell in 1991. The dairy industry was non-existent then with individual farmers processing their own products and selling only at the local level. Ferdinand was one of the first dairy processors to sign up with USAID’s Land O’ Lakes Good Management Practices program. Ferdinand, along with many others throughout Albania, have benefited from USAID's assistance.

After an automobile accident several years ago, Teuta Halilaj’s life changed. In a moment, her whole environment became accessible only from a wheelchair and her self-confi dence dwindled. Then she realized, “If you want life to smile for you, you must smile fi rst. We women with disabilities must make that fi rst step and change our fate.”

Smile she did, becoming a voice for people with disabilities in Tirana. As an active member of the Albanian Disability Rights Foundation, supported by USAID, Halilaj was chosen to represent Albania in the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability, winning a tuition scholarship to the American English Institute in Eugene, Oregon.

With the help of a small grant from USAID, Xhevit Hysenaj was able to bring in three engineers to advise on the design, construction, and operation of a larger-capacity, cost-effective distiller for essential oils.

Many laws are passed in Albania that are not implemented for various reasons. In the case of the law against domestic violence, passed in December 2006 with overwhelming bipartisan support and coming into effect in June 2007, the effort by Albanian citizens, including the Albanian Center for Legal Civic Initiatives made a big difference and helped ensure the law was enforced.


Last updated: December 18, 2014