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.

Shah Mohammed, a wheat farmer in Kapisa Province, owns a seven-acre farm with his five brothers.  Each year they grow two crops of wheat, beans, and vegetables – just enough to feed the 40 members of their extended family.  They come from a long line of traditional farmers who have struggled with ox and plow on this same plot of ground.  “We always farmed in the traditional way of our forefathers,” Mohammed said.  “It was just enough for us to get by, but without a tractor we knew we’d never be able to get ahead.”

Karezes have been around for about 3,000 years, stretching from China to Africa. A karez is a unique way of gathering water which flows continuously all year through underground tunnels and the farmers have little control of the discharge rate. It flows fast in the spring, just after the snowmelt, and the flow gradually declines to a minimum at the end of fall, before the annual precipitation season.

Nine months ago, there was no service to assist Afghan taxpayers with completing tax forms and clarifying complicated tax requirements.  Visiting the Herat Medium Taxpayer Office today, taxpayers are met by skilled staff ready to provide tax education and filing assistance.

Women in Afghanistan have faced challenges in obtaining redress through formal avenues of justice.  Some women who have been outspoken on women’s rights issues, such as human trafficking or violence against women, have continually received death threats, visits to their homes by gunmen, and dismissals from their jobs.

Malika is a 49-year old Afghan widow and a mother of three, living in Maiwand District of Helmand Province, where women constitute the most vulnerable members of the population.  As a breadwinner, Malika has spent her life farming to provide her family’s basic needs.  Although she works hard, a great portion of her two-hectare farm remained uncultivated because she could not afford to irrigate and fertilize it.

In a graduation ceremony at Ministry of Public Health in Kabul today, 75 Afghan women received certificates for successfully completing the USAID-funded hospital midwifery education program and nine Afghan women received nursing degrees through the Aga Khan University Program in Afghanistan.

Finding an exciting career that can allow one to make a difference in their life and in the development of their country is a dream for many young Afghans.  In a country where unemployment is high and instability dictates everyday life, opportunities for exciting career opportunities are few and far between.

In December 2010, for the first time in the history of the Afghan women’s civil society movement, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and twenty Afghan civil society organizations joined together to establish the Afghan Women’s Advocacy Coalition, a nation-wide coalition of more than twenty women-focused Afghan civil society organizations and individuals.

Women queue in a long winding line at a health center in a remote part of Kabul Province every day.  Many have their children with them.  Few women in the community can read the alphabet and are completely dependent on others to read for them.  Few women hold jobs outside of the home.  Through word of mouth, women hear about a free literacy center nearby.


Last updated: August 12, 2013