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.

With a wide grin, twinkling eyes, and no-nonsense nature of a retired school teacher, Peace Corps Response Volunteer Gloria Reichmann welcomes students into the USAID Learning Resource Center in Bong County, Liberia. She points out story books and explains the new “Reading Lion’s Club”- read 10 books and receive a pencil, candy, and your name recorded on the reading room wall.

USAID and the Presidential Malaria Initiative work with local partners and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in all 15 of Liberia’s counties to cure and prevent malaria. With malaria medicine and bednets now available, one of the most challenging aspects of the fight against the disease is public awareness and door-to-door outreach to persuade people to use mosquito nets correctly and to seek treatment from qualified providers.

Luki Muia of Machakos, Kenya, used to keep eight cows that gave barely enough milk for her and her five children, with no surplus to sell. Now, she says efforts by a USAID public-private partnership have given her a clear road map out of the poverty that had always been part of her life. She grows bananas, has learned mango grafting, and was chosen to receive an improved breed of cow.

For years, banditry, arms smuggling, and a crisis of national identity have prevented members of the same Ogaden clan from reaching peace along the Kenya/Somalia border, but residents on both sides are now taking the first steps towards collaboration.

Thanks to USAID, the divided clan members have found mutual interests in their desire for a maternity wing, a much needed addition to their community’s dispensary.

The people of Kapsasian community, near Kenya’s renowned Masai Mara Game Reserve no longer have to walk miles in search of water thanks to a USAID/East Africa project that uses a giant rock to capture rain water.

“The rock only used to be good for harboring monkeys but now it’s our only source of water,” said one community member referring to a troop of baboons that used to spend nights on the rock.

Tariku Midergo started a coffee processing project with family support in 1998 near Yeragalem town in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities People’s (SNNP) Region. While establishing his business, Midergo heard about a new USAID-sponsored loan program and approached one of USAID’s partner banks, the Bank of Abyssinia, participating in the Development Credit Authority program, to get capital to establish and expand his business. Midergo praises USAID Ethiopia’s loan guarantee program because simple and straightforward procedures make loans accessible to small entrepreneurs like him.

In the DRC, USAID supports work in Ituri District to assist and reintegrate abducted boys and girls and the children conceived by abducted girls during their time with the fighting forces. The project helps reintegrate victims into their communities safely and prevent future abduction, trafficking, and sexual violence. An extensive communication campaign addresses discrimination directly through door-to-door outreach to abducted girls and meetings with community leaders to change attitudes. The program provides a comprehensive package of services to victims, including psychosocial counseling, family tracing and mediation, health assistance, education, skills training, social activities, and economic assistance.

“Sometimes I walk a long way to visit with women in their camps. They don’t always want to listen, and sometimes they don’t have time to talk. But I keep going — now we know things we didn’t know before and we can be healthier,” says Saida, a community health worker in rural Djibouti.

When it comes to civic involvement, Burundian women represent an untapped resource at a time when the country needs improved leadership at all levels of government and civil society. To fill this void, in 2009, USAID stepped forward to train more than 170 women leaders in Burundi, including parliamentarians and representatives of civil society.

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Last updated: August 20, 2013