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.

Gul Alam and other job-seekers in the northern Afghan province of Balkh are learning how to cut stone and for Gul, more than anyone else, this professional skill promises to be a lifeline. The 24-year-old has a paralyzed leg and uses a crutch. “I cannot stand for long and I cannot carry loads,” he says, explaining why stone-cutting will mean the difference between abject poverty and moderate financial security.

Abdul Hakimi has lost his home three times in 25 years. Each time, a flood surged through his village in Ghazni province in central Afghanistan, devastating everything along its path. The unruly Shamas river has repeatedly brought trouble for  hundreds of people in Sayanee village, on the outskirts of Ghazni city, the provincial capital. Abdul Hakimi says the consequences take years to overcome. “Each time, it takes four years to rebuild (a house),” he says, adding that it can cost anywhere between USD 10,000 and 20,000. Each flood also lays waste to 200 hectares of farmland, practically wiping out the local economy.

When the District Court of Makwanpur convicted three human traffickers in October 2012—sentencing them to 20 years in prison and a fine of 200,000 Nepalese rupees each ($2,256)—it created a nationwide stir and garnered wide media coverage. The successful conviction was a groundbreaking and unprecedented step in Nepal’s judicial and anti-human trafficking history, and provided a much needed ray of hope in the ongoing struggle to achieve justice for trafficking victims like Maya.

In Baku, Azerbaijan, a woman (name withheld to protect identity) recounted how she was deceived and entrapped with an offer of “good employment” in a neighboring country. Upon arrival at her new job, she was forced into prostitution for six months. Her first attempt to escape was unsuccessful, prompting her traffickers to punish her and force her to take drugs. On a second attempt to escape, she succeeded and managed to return to Azerbaijan, where a USAID-funded shelter for female victims of human trafficking helped her gradually recover from the traumatic ordeal.

Unemployed youth learn new trades, then launch small businesses with micro-loans

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.”

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Last updated: January 20, 2015