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.

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.

An Afghan delegation of 16 officials, headed by Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industries Mozammil Shinwari, participated in Afghanistan’s third Working Party meeting on Dec. 7 at WTO headquarters in Geneva. A Working Party allows WTO members and Afghanistan to discuss progress in reforms to conform to WTO agreements and principles.

Asma was just 18 when she arrived at Herat’s Legal Aid Clinic seeking refuge from an abusive husband. Her family had forced her to marry a man that Asma describes as “a drug addict”. When the young bride told her husband that she dreamed of continuing to study, she earned herself a sound beating. “My in-laws and my husband started beating me on a regular basis,” Asma told the lawyers at the Legal Aid Clinic as she filed for a divorce.

Zahra admits that she couldn’t even have aspired to her current job without USAID’s municipal internship scheme. The project focuses on recruiting women for the internship program in order to build a cadre of young professionals to work in local administration. When Zahra graduated alongside two female and six male interns, she was offered a senior managerial position on the strength of her performance during the mandatory, six-month, on-the-job training.

Benghazi is the birthplace of Libya’s revolution, but it’s also home to the new government’s growing pains. The Benghazi Local Council (BLC) is popularly elected but has been slow to deliver services, risking a crisis in confidence that could ultimately undermine the momentum of the country’s political transition. To counter this trend, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) recently supported an effort to provide local government officials in Benghazi with tools to communicate and connect with communities.


Last updated: January 20, 2015