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.

Jean Ndayishimiye, 21, lives in Rwanda’s Kirehe district, where he bought a piece of land in 2012. He soon found out that Jean Marie Vianney Nteziryayo, 27, had purchased a piece next to his. Each was interested in increasing the size of their plot, but the only way to do so was to expand into the plot of the other. Both wanting to maintain the full piece of land they’d purchased, a dangerous feud was sparked between the neighbors. 

It took just one flyer to get Leyaqat Khan thinking about his rights and responsibilities as a citizen and what he could reasonably expect from the municipal authorities in Jalalabad. His was one of 800 households the city targeted by 50 young volunteers to raise public awareness about local government.

At 26, Ahmad Shah Aazami thought his life was over. A landmine had blown off both his arms and the young man felt despondent and helpless.

When Helmand in southern Afghanistan organized a sports tournament to give young people the chance to test themselves and learn teamwork, it was a first for the province.

When a recent survey of residents of Herat revealed they knew little or nothing about municipal services, local officials realized it was time to get creative. With support from USAID’s Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations West (RAMP UP) program, Herat municipality organized a documentary film competition titled Herat From a Citizen’s Perspective.

Experts brought in by USAID’s Incentives Driving Economic Alternatives for the North, East and West (IDEA-NEW) project suggested Amir and other farmers in Parwan try growing broccoli instead of giving all their land over to cabbage, carrots, radishes, cauliflower and wheat. The farmers learned frost-protection techniques, how to apply fertilizer and drip irrigation. Amir says it was the most important training session of his life. Until then, he had used traditional farming methods.

The Middle East and North Africa face their own baby boom. More than half of the region’s population is under the age of 24, and more than one-quarter of its young people are unemployed.

The Arab baby boom is both an opportunity and a challenge. USAID invests in young people so they have the skills, knowledge and attitude to succeed in today’s society.

Abdul Raqib’s veterinary service covers 320 villages strung across five districts in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Laghman. For Dr Raqib, it is a dream come true. The veterinarian had long wanted to expand veterinary services in the province.

Building trust and leadership among Burma’s nascent civil society is key to a lasting, peaceful transition. But after decades of repression and division, those leading Burma’s reforms often face personal and professional obstacles affecting their ability to bridge gaps and forge alliances.

To be effective advocates for peace, these civil society leaders need to better understand how personal perceptions can affect professional relationships, and how these relationships can steer Burma’s political reform.  

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Last updated: January 16, 2015