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.

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.

The jar of honey in your cupboard is more than just a tasty sweetener. Many believe that a spoon of this ancient remedy per day improves overall health. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that market demand for organic honey have been constantly growing.

Shazia Mehmood* and her husband are now role models in promoting awareness on family planning in Tehsil Thull, Jaccobabad district of Sindh, Pakistan. The couple talks confidently about their decision to limit their family size to three children and wait for two years before their next pregnancy. They are convinced that families must learn about these topics to take better care of their health. 

Entrepreneurs from across Afghanistan flocked to the Access to Finance exhibition organized by the Afghanistan Banks Association with USAID support. Over the course of two days, 36 banks, microfinance institutions, insurance companies and mobile network operators interacted with small businesses and women entrepreneurs from across the country. The objective was to link those in need of capital with institutions that might be able to provide it.


Last updated: April 28, 2017