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 the past eight months, farmers in the southern Afghan district of Marja have lived in fear of accepting government or foreign aid.  Assassinations, road bombs, and night letters intimidated the local population.

It’s harvest time again in Arghandab, in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar.  At an orchard near the village of Mian Juy, pickers on high pomegranate branches drop fruit into the hands of waiting packers.  Zahir Shah, a local buyer, moves among them, tabulating numbers on a clipboard.  He’s been buying pomegranates wholesale for seven years, and he says he’s never seen a harvest like this one.

On Friday, Super Typhoon Haiyan swept across the Philippines with the strength of one of the most powerful storms ever to hit land. Although the toll of destruction is not yet clear, we know that millions of people have been affected, including thousands of people who have lost their lives, homes, or livelihoods. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Philippines and the humanitarian teams that are working around the clock to save lives.

Six new community centers opened their doors this fall to villagers in Nangarhar and Kandahar provinces.  The centers are the first of their kind in both provinces, offering citizens access to legal awareness and public outreach resources, along with classes to build technical skills and a space to host community meetings.

The Foroshgah-Bozorg Shopping Center was the first mall of its kind in Afghanistan and a symbol of the country’s future. After it was damaged in a Taliban attack, USAID worked with the Afghan Government to rebuild the center and to help individual shopkeepers recover their businesses.

Zulaikha is a community health worker (CHW) in the village of Lay-Lay, one of the most remote areas of Bamyan Province. Lay-Lay is almost an hour and a half away from the nearest health clinic and it is difficult for villagers to travel such a long distance to receive medical care. CHWs like Zulaikha -- village residents trained in first aid and basic medical care -- provide essential health services to the members of their community thanks to training and assistance from USAID’s Health Services Support Project. 

The Governor, as part of the Hamkari Baraye Kandahar (Cooperation for Kandahar) initiative, wanted to show that the city’s municipal government can respond to residents’ needs. The Kandahar municipality took the lead and identified projects that would make life better for average Kandaharis, such as improving the city sidewalks, also demonstrating that the government can provide basic services to the nearly 850,000 residents.

Sardar Mohammad has been a sheepherder for most of his life.  Now he works for the government, shepherding a different type of flock.  As Kuchi Department Director, he is responsible for more than 350,000 Kuchi nomads in Kandahar Province and is intimately in tune with the needs of his people.  However, government resources are limited, and aid programs aimed at Kuchis are few.

Dasht-e-Barchi is a poor community located to the west of Kabul.  Although a two-lane road was recently constructed, the streets are almost too narrow for a car to pass, and the dilapidated houses on either side of the road suggest that no one could afford to own a car here anyway.  However, there is hope for economic improvement in the community and it resides with a vocational training program for women.

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Last updated: January 06, 2015