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.

Women in rural Liberia are often unaware that Liberian divorce law grants them the right to half of all property amassed during marriage. Even if they know about the law, many women are deterred by the high costs and social stigma associated with taking a case to formal courts. With support from USAID, the Carter Center and Catholic Justice and Peace Commission now support 45 community legal advisors in seven counties around Liberia. Approximately half of all cases involve female clients. Through this program, USAID is helping to make the rule of law a reality for ordinary Liberians, often for the first time.

In a small village in southeastern Madagascar, a group of 20 single women are working together to increase their incomes and their independence. For the past two years, they have benefited from a USAID program to improve food security and nutrition among nearly 100,000 vulnerable households.

As the world marks United Nations Population Day, which emphasizes the right to reproductive health for everyone everywhere, Pashtana, an illiterate mother of seven, may be living proof that Afghanistan’s past is no longer the future of its women.Her first child, 20 years ago, was stillborn and the ordeal began miserably – and predictably enough – at home in Charbagh, in the eastern province of Laghman. Her youngest child, who is three, was delivered in ease and comfort at a Charbagh clinic, which monitored the health of mother and fetus at regular three-month intervals.

Amarjon Abdusamadov stands poised with scissors in hand ready to take on his next customer. One month into his training, he exudes confidence but works with a careful hand. His barber’s coat belies his young age of 18. “I had just graduated from high school and needed a job to help my family,” says Abdusamadov. “There are six people in my family and my older brother is the only one with a job. He is working in Russia.”

The Tajikistan Stability Enhancement Program builds and repairs rural infrastructure to develop targeted agricultural value chains and contribute to overall stability. During the summer growing season, the Tajikistan Stability Enhancement Program, a USAID-funded activity operating in the Tavildara Valley since 2009, has rehabilitated the defunct irrigation canal in Argankul, jumpstarting production and allowing farmers like Jumabek Begov to produce enough food to eat and surplus potatoes to sell. 

Afghanistan’s vibrant and increasingly professional media is widely seen as a success story but press freedom remains a challenge. Ordinary Afghans remain generally ignorant about the crucial role that a free press can and should play in society and consequently do not offer robust support to media institutions. There is a need to build public awareness about journalists and their work.      

When a fire forced Radio Sahar off the air, USAID’s Afghanistan Media Development and Empowerment project supported the rebuilding of this station run by women in Herat. In record time, the Internews technical team managed to get Radio Sahar broadcasting again.

A diverse group of Afghan women entrepreneurs crossed new frontiers at the three-day Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan, which drew 124 Indian businesses representatives – more than twice the number expected to attend. The 12 Afghan businesswomen, who variously run fleets of trucks, supply construction material, design software programs and make furniture, went to India to seek deals, training and technology from Indian companies. The business-to-business summit is part of a USAID-sponsored initiative to boost international investment in Afghanistan.

As a teacher in rural Kenya, Dr. Nduku Kilonzo never thought she would become involved in women's health, gender issues, and HIV. However, it was during her time as an educator in the 1990s when she began to realize disparities that threatened the health and well-being of her female students. “Women were looking after the sick or couldn't afford to send their daughters to school because they were spending money on health care,” she recalls.

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Last updated: December 30, 2014