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.

Kunduz is a relatively large city located in northern Afghanistan. Several English and computer training centers exist within the region, but in most families women are not allowed to attend classes with men. These constraints restrict female access to the training facilities.

There are 225 families living in Taibuti Village near central Bamyan Province without access to potable water. Most of the inhabitants have been suffering from diseases including diarrhea, kidney disease, and thyroid problems. Sediqa, head of the Afghan Families Development Organization based in Bamyan, decided to train women from the community to make water filters from common materials available in the local area.

Afghanistan’s colossus is awakening after decades of neglect. Standing at 7,492 meters in the Hindu Kush Mountains of the Wakhan Corridor, Mount Noshaq is Afghanistan’s highest peak. Noshaq was popular among foreign mountaineers in the years between its first ascent in 1960 and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Chair of the British Mountaineering Club, Lindsay Griffin, who climbed the peak in 1977, states that Noshaq could be one of the most popular mountains in the world due to its elevation, the non-technical ascent route, and the stable summer weather.

A woman in Zinda Jan district of Hirat Province reported that she once accidentally gave veterinary medicine to her child because she did not have basic health information.

Given the images of Afghanistan that appear in the news, most people would have difficulty picturing Afghanistan as an appealing tourist destination. But for two western businesses, this is precisely the Afghanistan they envision, and they are putting their money into making that vision a reality.

"When the first irrigation project came to Khairkut, we were slow to register to work there. We had doubts about the project because lots of people had made promises to help us before but none of them delivered on their promises. Our forefathers went to their graves with hope in their hearts that these lands would be developed," said Mahmoud Ahmad, a worker at the second project in Khairkut District of Paktya Province.

Routine vaccinations can spare many Afghan children from the communicable diseases that not only make them ill but can even cause death. But with 80 percent of the estimated 25 million people living in rural areas, in a country the size of Texas, immunizing every child against measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and polio represents no small challenge.

Afghans have been cultivating grapes for thousands of years. More than 50 varieties of table grapes are grown in the country. Grapes are vital for hundreds of thousands of Afghan farmers but the decades of conflict and turmoil have left their vineyards in bad shape. Before the conflicts, Afghan raisins commanded up to a 40 percent market share of the world markets.

One of the most important tasks in life is passing a professional skill from one generation to the next. Without this, skills may eventually become a lost art. With few craftsmen in Afghanistan, the opportunities for the next generation to learn the valuable skills have decreased. However, new opportunities have recently presented themselves through one of USAID’s stabilization projects in Kandahar Province.

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Last updated: January 07, 2015