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.

This hearing room at the newly renovated court is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Three judges rotate shifts at the court, ensuring that access to justice is always within reach. The 24-hour courts prevent overcrowding in pre-trial detention facilities by providing timely alternatives to imprisonment, such as bail. This system presents a deterrent to police corruption because police can no longer detain suspects for lengthy periods without court orders.

After learning about safer clearing techniques from a USAID-sponsored awareness campaign, students painted this sign, which says: “Don’t Burn the Forests — Or do you want to end life?” Through its programs, USAID has helped farmers realize that by choosing other clearing methods not only are they saving the forests — they are saving lives.

José Luis Lux, a vegetable producer in the community of Chirijuyú in Guatemala’s Chimaltenango Department, and his family lived in extreme poverty. That changed in 1993 when his family led the community to establish an association of agricultural producers, Labradores Mayas (“Mayan Workers”), which sold vegetables to middlemen. With USAID support, the association strengthened production, became certified on international food regulation practices, and systematized administrative functions to comply with international buyer requirements.

USAID is working to get small farmers involved in international markets by helping them maximize production with crops like broccoli and form local cooperatives that give them more leverage. Converting small farms into well-functioning businesses will make the area more dynamic and productive and create better living standards for the residents.

Trafficking in persons is a serious problem in South Quito, Ecuador.  In six local schools, USAID sponsored a program for students ages 5-12 who are at high risk of becoming victims.

What can 77 women do with $5,000? Just ask Miriam Sánchez. This rural mom in Cubinche had few employment opportunities and, as a result, no reliable source of income. She led a group of women in forming a small association that would use their sewing skills to produce and sell clothing. Upon hearing about Miriam and the association, USAID provided financial support to help the group expand its operations.

A USAID program has been training teachers in creative ways to make learning in Spanish easier for non-native speakers. As they learn to read and write in Spanish, they also learn the skills to write in Quichua.

USAID launched a small loans project to encourage Ecuadorian banks and financiers to grant credit to these small entrepreneurs. Making small loans available to individuals with business sense and vision, but without a credit history, has proven to be an effective tool in the fight against poverty.

Northern Ecuador’s Condor Bioreserve stretches from Andean grasslands to Amazon rainforests. Its mountain streams trickle into rivers that supply water to the capital of Quito. The region is a sanctuary for the endangered spectacled bear and the Andean condor, the world’s largest flying bird. A top conservation priority, the bioreserve is threatened by unsustainable farming, over-grazing, logging, illegal hunting, and intentionally set fires. Local communities depend on natural resources to survive, yet come into conflict with wildlife when bears attack cattle pasturing near their habitat, costing families thousands of dollars a year.

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Last updated: January 12, 2015