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.

Following a USAID-backed training and career mentoring program, youth in eastern Sri Lanka are starting small enterprises-- a much needed step in an area still living in conflict's shadow.

Since the end of Sri Lanka’s 30-year conflict in May 2009, USAID has aimed to increase civic engagement through activities that allow communities to give voice to issues of importance. The demonstrations against sexual violence highlighted an endemic problem throughout Sri Lanka, while demonstrating to Jaffna authorities and the community that youth can still speak out.

In Burkina Faso, half of the population is classified as food insecure, meaning either food is unavailable, inaccessible, or they are not using food in the most nutritious way. Combine that with a 2012 food crisis due to poor harvests and conflict across the border in Mali, and it could spell devastation for some communities.

Across the Sahel, periodic droughts have increased with distressing frequency. In 2012, millions throughout the Sahel—including parts of Burkina Faso—experienced food insecurity after poor harvests in 2011 that were exacerbated by conflict and insecurity  that spilled out of Mali and into neighboring countries.

Despite these challenges, communities in Burkina Faso that previously received assistance from USAID are thriving. In the village of Rassomdé, farmers continue to produce yields three times greater than before USAID’s assistance and in spite of the 2012 food crisis.

When Habibullah Saifizada looks at one of his gemstones, he sees a glittering symbol of the future.  A graduate of the USAID-funded Institute of Afghan Arts and Architecture at Turquoise Mountain, Habibullah runs a thriving jewelry business. “I want to become a famous jeweler,” he says, proudly describing the orders he has received from as far afield as Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Tucson.

The unifying themes of Ferozkoh are the preservation of the traditional arts of the Islamic world – in both subjects and materials – in the modern world, and the role of education in its transmission and translation. Half the objects are historic pieces from the Museum of Islamic Art collection, from four great dynasties with connections to Afghanistan: the Ghaznavids, Timurids, Mughals and Safavids. 

Bibi Gul, a 40-year-old widow with three children living in Banjosa village, Rawalakot Tehsil, District Poonch of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, could not believe she earned Rs 60,000 from the sale of 6,000 gladioli stems she grown with USAID support. “I can’t be more thankful to Allah for bestowing upon me this day when I have so much money,” said Bibi Gul with tears of joy in her eyes.

Sima is one of many women in her area who were trained in dairy farming at a Veterinary Field Unit. USAID’s Incentives Driving Economic Alternatives for the North, East, West (IDEA-NEW) project has supported nearly 100 such units, staffed by women para-veterinarians, over the past three years. The units aim to help Afghan livestock farmers, particularly women, reduce livestock mortality and help increase the yield of meat, milk, eggs, cashmere and wool from karakul sheep.

Farzana’s dreams became reality when the municipal authority in her city, Lashkar Gah developed a business-training scheme for women like her. The three-month program, supported by USAID’s Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations (RAMP UP) – South, taught Farzana all she needed to know about becoming beautician.


Last updated: January 20, 2015