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.

On a sunny day in December 2012, Judge Ana María Elías-González walked into a Baja California state courtroom to give the final reading of a 35-year prison sentence she handed to a man a few days previously for the murder of his girlfriend.

Chaghcharan, Farah, Herat and Qala-e-Naw municipalities in western Afghanistan are changing – and they’re changing for the better. They’re training their staff and modernizing their systems in an attempt to improve responsiveness to the people’s needs with support from USAID’s Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations West.

The body needs food to grow but the soul needs art to move on, says Sughra Husseini, remembering how sad and dispirited she felt when both her parents died. She worked through her grief by applying to study calligraphy and miniature painting at the Turquoise Mountain Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture in Kabul. Sughra’s older brother supported her artistic aspirations. Today, she is regarded as one of Afghanistan’s rising young artists.

Kubura Sulemana is a store keeper for the Africa Indoor Residual Spraying project in northern Ghana. The project protects millions of people in Africa from malaria by spraying insecticide on the walls, ceilings and other indoor resting places of mosquitoes that transmit malaria. Here, Sulemana tells her story:

“There was so much dust and traffic. Trucks and cars would drive so fast and park right in front of the shops,” explains Javid Mohammed, a Maiwand bazaar shopkeeper. “There were many accidents.” For years, the simple task of shopping could be a dangerous affair for customers in the Maiwand bazaar. The risk of being struck by cars and trucks driving along the main highway or parking directly in front of shops was very real. Business in the bazaar suffered and many shops were forced to close their doors.   

When orchards in northeastern Afghanistan were sprayed with a pesticide called dormant oil, it was more than just another disease-control measure. More than 3,000 farmers felt assured of higher yields because the oil-based pesticide is considered very effective in controlling winter pests. And pesticide spraying has become a thriving business in the area.

When Kandahar municipality in southern Afghanistan actively started to spread the word about job opportunities in local government, it was the first step towards becoming more effective. The municipality set out to attract and retain trained staff. With the support of USAID’s Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations (RAMP UP) South, Kandahar developed a training and recruitment scheme. Technical experts trained 12 high school graduates to design and manage municipal construction projects. All the trainees were subsequently recruited by the municipality’s engineering department.

Herat University has expanded its teachers’ training program thanks to a brand new College of Education. In the new building, the university is training teaching instructors. They will be a crucial element of Herat’s attempt to improve education across the province by upgrading the skills and knowledge of its teachers. The instructors being trained at the College of Education will fan out and provide continuing education classes to teachers. They will also certify teachers’ qualifications.

Just three days at a business conference and Rabiya Maryam’s life – and work – changed forever. She runs a small company in Afghanistan, which manufactures silk handicrafts, and says she benefitted enormously from the networking opportunities and inspirational real-life stories at the South Asia Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Last updated: January 16, 2015