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.

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.
 

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 Diseased rootstock has been replaced by 500,000 seedlings planted across 1,500 acres in Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar provinces between 2010 and 2012.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.

Matiullah’s orchard produced nearly 60,000 kilos of apricots last season. It was a remarkable harvest from just two jeribs, says Matiullah, using the traditional Afghan unit, which equals 4,000 square meters. He says the yield is the result of professional pruning techniques. “We can easily control growth…not only do we get higher yields, harvesting is much easier.”

Sara Hurtado has been in love with the forest ever since she was a little girl.

"I would always go to the jungle in Cuzco where my parents lived, and every venture into the forest was amazing, " she says remembering her childhood vacations.

The daughter of Brazil nut producers and a single mother of three, Hurtado acquired her own concession of over 1,200 hectares in the early 1980s and now has 550 Brazil nut trees. The tallest in the Amazon Forest, Brazil nut trees can reach 50 meters in height, making harvesting the nuts no easy task. 

Llamely Tejedo will never forget the day she told her brother that she wanted to open her own business.

“He looked at me and said, ‘If you choose to be poor, I feel sorry for you,'” she recounts with a steady gaze.

But Tejedo, who has degrees in accounting and foreign trade, forged onward and opened a business in 2007 selling artisanal handicrafts that she and another brother made from precious Amazonian woods and a special resin she discovered while studying in Brazil.

Haji Nazar Mohammad, chairman of the Kandahar Fresh Fruits Association, peers into a refractometer. He’s checking the sugar content of fruit, a skill newly learnt at post-harvest training provided by USAID’s Financial Access for Investing in the Development of Afghanistan (FAIDA).

Adela Estrada Carrera, 28, lives in the rural community of La Victoria (the Victory) in the district of Shunté in Peru's San Martin region. The mother of two children, she begins each day at 4:00 a.m. by cleaning the house, preparing food and attending to her family’s needs. Once she is finished, she hurries off to start her visits to the homes of neighboring families in the community.

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Last updated: January 20, 2015