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 many years, Omar was known as “The Devil.” Like many youth in his neighborhood, he was the member of a gang. More lucky than some of his childhood friends who are now dead, Omar managed to leave the gang and join a USAID-sponsored program for youth at risk.
Through her work, trained therapist Vilma Dinora Morales learned that violence against women in Villa Nueva (a Guatemala City suburb) was a serious problem that received little attention and often went unpunished. Community leaders and justice center professionals wanted to help women access justice, but did not know how.
Selvin Boanerges Garcia Velásquez is the mayor of the municipality of Pachalúm, in the Department of Quiché’s southeastern corner. This department was one of the most heavily affected areas during the armed conflict that ended with the 1996 Peace Accords. The municipality, mostly Ladino (referring to persons of mixed European and American Indian ancestry, mostly mixed Maya-Spanish ancestry), has a population of about 11,000 persons, with an estimated additional 3,000 living abroad, mainly in New Jersey.
When neighbors asked Manfer Manuel Guzmán how much the new Youth Outreach Center pays him, he said, “I’m paid with love and I’m planting seeds to harvest.”
Manfer volunteers three hours a week at the Ciudad del Sol Center, at his Evangelical church. Though he thinks it is not much time, he knows it goes a very long way. Manfer, who lives with his parents and brother, is a music teacher and a student at the Instituto Canción (Song Institute).
In Guatemala's Quiché department, only half the children complete first grade - one symptom of a wider education problem that continues a cycle of illiteracy and poverty in the area, especially among rural, indigenous girls. Inefficiency in the education system is one of the root causes and particularly affects the lower grades.
Corruption is an endemic problem in Guatemala that has profoundly negative impacts on investment, governance and the legitimacy of democratic government. In addition to the direct losses caused by diversion of funds, corruption is used as an argument against paying taxes, impeding the generation of additional revenues. While the previous government was plagued by wholesale corruption, President Oscar Berger, who took office in January 2004, says he is determined to leave stronger government institutions for the administration that succeeds his in 2008.
Last updated: December 09, 2013