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.

Despite its tremendous economic potential, Pakistan’s mango sector has been unable to capitalize on the high-end international markets. Due to the lack of modern equipment, practices and infrastructure at the farm level, the sector struggles with large post-harvest losses and the inability to supply consistent quality fruit.

Wali Sultan from Daska in Punjab worried he would not be able to continue his studies after his father died.  “I had always dreamed of studying in a renowned university, but I had no clue about how I would be able to complete a master’s degree and help support my family,” said Sultan.  

Sultan heard about the Merit and Need Based Scholarships offered by USAID and the Higher Education Commission and applied.

Jamila Khatoon, her husband and seven children live in Malir. This impoverished district of Karachi is a home to thousands of people with middle and lower income.  “My husband is a day laborer. His small income does not cover the family’s basic needs,” says Khatoon.

For years, the bustling Shar-e Safa bazaar, which straddles Afghanistan’s primary national highway in the Tarnak wa Jaldak district of Zabul province, was locally regarded as a deathtrap. It was important for local commerce but “our children were getting killed,” says Hikmat Hamoud, a policeman in Shar-e Safa village. “There was nothing separating the highway from the shops,” he explains, “sometimes, the children would run out into the road, or the trucks would drive too fast and too close to the bazaar.”

With USAID assistance, in April 2013, newly empowered, multi-ethnic women’s groups in northern Sri Lanka embarked on new entrepreneurial endeavors, including a dry fish production and sales center, a food processing center, and a grinding mill. The new enterprises bring together Tamil and Muslim returnees from this war-affected area, encourage community integration and reconciliation, and offer new economic hope for the 345 women involved. 

Zoya Hemat is a client assistant at a private bank in Kabul. Till recently, says the 22-year-old, she was acutely aware that she lacked the skills to deal with any and every problem that came up in the workday. “I was only equipped to handle some of the clients, the rest I had to refer to my senior colleagues,” she says.

Houwayda*, 26, who graduated last spring from the National School of Engineering in Sousse, Tunisia, recently received a special opportunity from a prospective employer, Proxym-IT, to polish her interpersonal skills in a USAID-supported course. The Sousse-based firm, which specializes in developing web and mobile applications, is committed to extending full-time work offers to her and other new recruits upon successful completion of the classes.

Trained as a software engineer, Houwayda wants to do far more than develop software.

In March 2013, Mohammad Asef received an unusual request. It was about his daughter, Amena, who was all of 21. USAID’s Afghan Workforce Development Program (AWDP) wanted to know if Mr Asef was willing for Amena to receive financial management training as well as the basic skills required to find a job. Mr Asef agreed, happy that Amena would learn how to write a resume and how to explore Afghanistan’s competitive jobs market, where unemployment is estimated to be more than 30%.

Abdul Basir Hotak’s plans for Afghanistan’s cashmere sector include some evolution and a small revolution. Hotak, whose cashmere processing company supplies hand spun yarn to American designer brands such as Kate Spade and clothing retailers such as J. Crew, says the sector needs to be industrialized and Afghanistan should stop exporting raw cashmere.


Last updated: January 20, 2015