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.

Welcome to the Wakhan Corridor in northeast Afghanistan: an isolated and breathtakingly beautiful mountain landscape that is sparsely populated by fierce people and even fiercer creatures, such as the elusive Snow Leopard and the Marco Polo sheep. Survival in such a landscape is challenging at best. Thanks to the USAID-sponsored project, however, both the people and wildlife of the Wakhan Corridor have been given new hope.

“I have made this drawing to say I want my city to be like this,” said Zahra, a 6th grade student at Alikhel girls’ school in Mahmud Raqi, the capital of Kapisa Province in eastern Afghanistan, as she proudly displayed her award-winning artwork. 

Mohammad Rafi’s family was so poor that he had to leave school half-way through to help his father with the tiny grocery store that sustained them all. Born into a family of limited means in Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, Rafi busied himself selling biscuits, candy and other food items out of the small shop close to their home. He would rather have been at school, doing sums. The grocery store yielded little enough anyway. Despite the hard work, they never earned more than $120 a month from the shop. It was never enough for the family and Rafi grew up dreaming that he would one day own a thriving general store.

From December 8-9, Afghan businesswomen from around the country gathered in Kabul for a two-day exhibition. The event, which was sponsored by USAID’s Trade Access and Facilitation for Afghanistan (TAFA) program, enabled the businesswomen to sell their quality products to a diverse clientele consisting of Afghans and expatriates.

In a first for southern Afghanistan, a month-long program of youth forums gave hundreds of young Afghans the chance to discuss citizenship and governance and ways to make their municipal authorities more representative and more responsive. USAID’s Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations (RAMP UP) South worked closely with the mayors of Kandahar, Lashkar Gah, Qalat, Tirin Kot, Nili and Zaranj to organize the forums, which drew about 600 people.

Over 600 students at Sardar Kabuli Girls’ High School in Kabul were recently inspired by a talk from four Afghan women engineering students from Kabul University. Sharing their diverse experiences, the speakers focused on how they are achieving their life goals through higher education.

The Jalalabad-based Food Production Company is a successful business with steady growth since 2009, when it was established. In 2011, the company began receiving more orders for its fruit jams, juices, ketchup and chili sauce than they could produce. Owner Mohammad Ashraf knew it was time to expand and add more retailers in Jalalabad, Kabul and other key cities on Afghanistan, but he didn’t have enough capital to finance the expansion.

“We are ready for the future! Maw tars nadaraim (We are not afraid)” declared Sima Tabib, head of Aziz National Furniture and one of Afghanistan’s most respected business leaders.

As she stood in line with 29 other women, Lima Khurram finally felt she was ready and able to serve her country. Lima, a 24-year-old mathematics graduate from Kabul University, had just completed a USAID-sponsored, four-month Women in Government internship.

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Last updated: January 20, 2015