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.

It is an upbeat statement and Mr Mohammad goes on to explain why the building work was so important. The school was so badly damaged, he recalls, that most of the classrooms and toilets were unusable. “The doors and windows were broken,” he adds. It made for low morale among students and teachers alike. Every day, fewer children came to class and many teachers sought work elsewhere. Shamal High School’s decline was a matter of great concern because it was the only one in the district.

It took just $2,000 to transform Bibi Sediqa Musawi’s house. But it changed her life and that of her soldier husband and their three children. Till she heard about home improvement loans, the family lived in a cramped windowless house without a kitchen or a front door. It was all they could afford.

Abdul Matin is hard at work in his ceramics workshop in Kabul but he regards each turquoise bowl as so much more than a piece of pottery. To Mr Matin, it represents the history and traditions of Afghanistan, more than 400 years of creative skills passed down from generation to generation.

For years, Dehgan Roz manufactured plain yoghurt using the most basic equipment and production process. Milk from two suppliers was made into yoghurt, which was delivered to small shops in Kabul.
The company was able to raise its game after it procured a loan from the USAID-funded Agricultural Development Fund. It bought modern processing machinery and was able to improve the quantity and quality of its products. And it started to buy milk directly from producers around Kabul. 

Like many Afghan refugees who fled Taliban rule in the 1990s, Laila returned from Iran in 2011, glad to be home but worried about the future. The mother of five was unsure how she would keep her family fed. It took two classes in rearing silkworms for Laila to realize that this might be the answer.

Until recently, farmers in eastern Afghanistan dreamt of a good harvest but were unable to make it a reality. Their orchards suffered from poor management and irrigation practices, and crucially, the inability to control winter pests. Then USAID started to educate them in February 2012 on the benefits of a pesticide called dormant, or winter, oil.

September 2013—Nazira* cultivates a kitchen garden, selling the vegetables and earning more than she ever made as a seamstress.
 
“I lost my father when I was a child. It’s up to me to support my family and now I can,” she says.
 
Madeena also finds her kitchen garden good value. She says she was able to sell the produce right through winter.
 
September 2013—When the Sarkani Youth Association in the northeastern Afghan province of Kunar decided to re-build a cricket pitch [When?], it was more than an acknowledgement of the area’s most popular sport. It symbolized a crucial attempt to engage with young people.
 

Virus-resistant citrus plants are offering healthier prospects to farmers in eastern Afghanistan. Diseased rootstock has been replaced by 500,000 seedlings planted across 1,500 acres in Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar provinces between 2010 and 2012. Five years from now, they are expected to yield a rich harvest every year, earning an estimated $3 million in combined fruit sales.

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Last updated: January 12, 2015