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.

The Baqa’a refugee camp, 20 minutes north of Jordan’s capital, Amman, is home to 120,000 refugees. It is considered one of six “emergency” camps set up in 1968 to accommodate Palestinian refugees and displaced persons who left the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The need to support the camp’s growing population has become more urgent. The camp’s capacity has grown into a community that aims to improve the quality of life for its residents through initiatives that develop skills and trades while generating a source of income to support their families. 

Like so many young people in Jordan and around the world, Murad Al Zaghal was in need of opportunities to express his creative voice in a way that contributed to his personal growth. By participating in USAID’s International Youth Day 2011, 19- year-old Al Zaghal got a boost to his confidence and abilities while pursuing his passion for design.

During the early 1990s, lead was one of the main pollutants affecting the lives of Egyptian residents. Diagnosed cases of lead poisoning and measurable levels of lead in the blood were more than twenty times higher than for adults in the U.S. In addition, lead levels in the air of Cairo neighborhoods were more than thirty times higher than world health standards.

In El Borgayah, a town of 20,000 in Egypt's Menya Governorate, one out of every ten residents owns livestock. Most, however, rely on traditional rearing and health practices. Simple illnesses would often turn serious and a private veterinarian would need to be called. But even their vet, who charges $1.75 for a visit, was often unable to save the animal's life.

Water is necessary for life, but if it is polluted it also can cause disease and even loss of life. The lesson is a simple but critical one. Thanks to a USAID program run in cooperation with Egypt’s government, this lesson is being learned and passed on in communities in Egypt’s El-Sharkia province.

Farmers and residents living along canals Egypt’s eastern El-Sharkia province have long used their open canal system almost as a sewer — people often threw their garbage into the canal and there were no organized efforts to keep the canals clean. This would pollute the water and clog up the water flow, depriving downstream farmers of water when they needed it for their crops.

It all started one day when a handful of farmers noticed a change in the color and odor of the canal water in El-Goda, in Egypt’s eastern El-Sharkia province. They reported their findings to Mohamed Hussein, the head of the El-Goda canal water user association. Mr. Hussein then arranged a meeting with Ahmad Mahmoud, an engineer and the director of the integrated water management district to identify the problem.

Abd-El Reheem Ali, head of El-Sharakah Canal Water Users Association, knows how important women are as members of his association. It was through their efforts that the community cleaned up its canal, improving everyone’s health, as well as the farmers’ crops.

Literacy classes in the El Marg district in Cairo, one of eight districts where USAID supports education reform in Egypt, have taken a new turn. “Learning carnivals”, a concept developed in close collaboration between the national Adult Education Authority (AEA) and USAID, makes literacy classes more active and enjoyable for learners. Not only are classes more fun, the carnivals encourage newcomers to join integrated literacy classes, which teach both literacy and life skills, such as child nutrition, together.


Last updated: January 12, 2015