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.

In 2010, Béliard Miracle was an unknown farmer in the Kenscoff region of Haiti. His meager income came from small harvests of vegetables that he cultivated in difficult conditions, without the benefit of modern production techniques. With limited access to markets, he made just $1,000 per year. Then something changed in his community that made it possible for Miracle to earn three times that amount in a single month.

Abdul Jalil is a master mason in Jawzjan province in the north of Afghanistan but he earns too little to feed his family of 12. Drought, caused by poor rains over the last two seasons, has affected prospects for work in this and 13 other provinces in Afghanistan. Abdul Jalil’s family is one of many that goes to bed hungry.

With a large family depending on her earnings, Fatuma Suleban has struggled.  “I used to sell meat on the street – with no shade,” she says. “I would often move around all day in search customers.”

In Somalia, USAID supports activities that communities select and implement with local authorities for quick-impact progress toward stabilization.

When USAID brought together government and community representatives from Aynabo, the town in central Somaliland where Suleban lives, the group prioritized market rehabilitation and public sanitation. 


In 2009, Hamsa Haji Hussain returned from the United Kingdom to the small town of Beer in Somaliland to manage over 3,000 hectares of farmland inherited from his father. He had earned a degree in business administration in the U.K. and started an enterprise there.

“But I always knew I was going to come back home and follow in my father’s footsteps,” says Hussain. When Hussain first saw his land, he was shocked at the contrast with England’s lush countryside. “But once the rain fell, I saw the river flow and realized the potential,” he says.

Abdirisaq Noor saw a fundamental problem with Somaliland livestock: branding. Noor was not referring to marking livestock with a hot iron, but the marketing of Somali livestock.

“You can taste the difference in Somali livestock meat. It’s fresh, it’s grass fed, it’s organic,” he explains. “But until now, no Somali has branded their livestock meat as organic and free range.”

He held a piece of paper to his chest and tried to explain what he had drawn: a painted wall where he used to sit and sniff glue, and a restaurant where he begged for food. “They used to kick us away and pour hot water on us,” said 12-year-old Abdi Omar Yusuf.

Abdi now lives at the Janno Jiif Street Kids & Rehabilitation Center, located on the outskirts of Somaliland’s capital city, Hargeisa. Run by Somaliland’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the center houses over 100 street children who have been displaced or fled from Somalia and neighboring Ethiopia.

For years, Habibullah, a potato farmer in Afghanistan’s northern province of Faryab, struggled to support his family. His land never yielded enough to pay for everything his three children needed. “I needed to buy wheat, oil, sugar, clothes, stationary and medicine” but there were never enough potatoes, Habibullah recalls.

For Shamim and Mohammad Hafiz, microfinance is a business partner that they cannot do without. Each received a small loan to expand their business and each says the capital made a big difference to profits and prospects. Small loans can bring about big change. Small businesses often need just a small amount to implement big changes and bring their businesses to a sustainable level. 

Insurgents killed Babo’s husband three years ago, and soon after the grieving widow’s four sons left home as well. There was little work for them in their home district of Arghandab in Afghanistan’s volatile southern province of Kandahar. Babo’s sons headed for the city but their remittances home were sporadic. “My children sent money when they can, but I couldn’t always rely on it,” recalls Babo.


Last updated: January 20, 2015