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.

USAID and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted a national competition for law students that would encourage the participation of universities from throughout Colombia to help adjust their academic programs and better prepare their students to carry out their responsibilities under the new accusatory system.

The Paloquemao legal complex in Bogotá, Colombia has more than 100 courts and a backlog of more than 8,000 homicide cases. Before March of last year, Colombia's largest judicial complex could not address families’ and victims’ needs. Now, however, with the support of the USAID Justice Reform and Modernization Program, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the office of the Colombian Attorney General (Fiscalía), such persons have a Victim’s Attention Center (CAV) where they can get psychologi-cal support and legal advice about moving their cases forward.

Due to this lack of easy access, the Government of Colombia never invested in infrastructure for this community. In 2008, first grade students of Serankua were not able to receive basic education due to the inadequate classrooms and sanitary units). Additionally, children from the surrounding indigenous communities such as Garwan, Maranchukwa and Jechikin were not able to attend class at this school because of the lack of capacity.

Among Brazil’s poor, youth unemployment can be as high as 66 percent. Young people looking for work lack the skills, experience, and education that make them desirable in a tight labor market. Another, very different, problem among the poor is access to electricity. About 12 to 15 million poor live without electricity — they are not connected to the nation’s power grid.

USAID is tackling these two problems with a joint solution: training youth how to install renewable energy systems that do not rely on access to the nation’s power grid.

Half of all unemployed people in Brazil are under 25. Youth unemployment is over 40 percent in northeastern Brazil and even higher among young women and the poor. With many Brazilians living in precarious social and economic conditions, it will be difficult to break the cycle of poverty without investing in youth.

For decades, human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Brazil was viewed as an isolated phenomenon, not a systemic problem. The lack of visibility made it difficult for victims to identify those who could help. It also made it hard for organizations that wanted to help to collaborate with each other.

People from the semi-arid “backlands” of Brazil’s northeast are known for their persistence in eking a living out of a nearly barren land, where severe droughts force them to relocate about once each decade. Farmers produce beans and manioc, a plant with an edible starchy root, or tend the cattle of wealthier landowners for negligible pay. In a land where eating beef is the symbol of success, the farmers can almost never afford it.

Purei was recently elected head of the Indigenous People’s Association of the Uru-eu-wau-wau, a tribe also known as the Jupaú. As association head, the 25-year-old made his first trip from a remote part of the Amazonian state of Rondônia to São Paulo, Brazil’s megalopolis, where he participated in the Indigenous Markets Fair. His purpose was to show wholesalers the forest products his people are producing under guidance from a USAID-sponsored program.

Brazil’s Atlantic Forest region accounts for 80 percent of the country’s GDP, hosts 70 percent of its population, and has lost over 90 percent of its original forest cover. The forest was once a continuous stretch of tropical and subtropical rainforest covering almost 1.4 million square kilometers. Today, it exists in isolated fragments threatened by illegal logging, poaching, deforestation, and urban and industrial development.


Last updated: January 12, 2015