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 40-year civil war in Guatemala destroyed the country’s social capital and contributed to highest poverty in the hemisphere. Despite this, economic opportunity exists in the form of trade expansion both within the region and with the United States and Mexico. Entrepreneurs in Guatemala are stepping up to advance and modernize competitiveness in the marketplace.

At Tech Museum Awards' November 2004 black-tie gala, USAID's Andy Lieberman won the Microsoft Education Award and $50,000 in recognition of his use of technology to solve global challenges and improve the lives of people around the world.

Until recently, access to educational technology was nothing more than a dream for children of rural local communities in Guatemala’s highlands. USAID helped fund the installation of sixteen mini-technology centers called CETEBITOS which are equipped with 8-10 multimedia computers, a printer, Microsoft office software, as well as locally-developed multimedia software to help students develop reading and writing skills in their native languages of K’iche’, Sakapulteko, and Ixil.

For many years, Omar was known as “The Devil.” Like many youth in his neighborhood, he was the member of a gang. More lucky than some of his childhood friends who are now dead, Omar managed to leave the gang and join a USAID-sponsored program for youth at risk.

Through her work, trained therapist Vilma Dinora Morales learned that violence against women in Villa Nueva (a Guatemala City suburb) was a serious problem that received little attention and often went unpunished. Community leaders and justice center professionals wanted to help women access justice, but did not know how.

Selvin Boanerges Garcia Velásquez is the mayor of the municipality of Pachalúm, in the Department of Quiché’s southeastern corner. This department was one of the most heavily affected areas during the armed conflict that ended with the 1996 Peace Accords. The municipality, mostly Ladino (referring to persons of mixed European and American Indian ancestry, mostly mixed Maya-Spanish ancestry), has a population of about 11,000 persons, with an estimated additional 3,000 living abroad, mainly in New Jersey.

Ana Lucia Soto de Escobar is one of the valuable volunteers that gives life to the Búcaro, Mezquital Youth Outreach Center in Villa Nueva, a Guatemala City suburb that is home to gangs and high crime rates.

When neighbors asked Manfer Manuel Guzmán how much the new Youth Outreach Center pays him, he said, “I’m paid with love and I’m planting seeds to harvest.”

Manfer volunteers three hours a week at the Ciudad del Sol Center, at his Evangelical church. Though he thinks it is not much time, he knows it goes a very long way. Manfer, who lives with his parents and brother, is a music teacher and a student at the Instituto Canción (Song Institute).

Fazal Agha had just bought some food for his family’s evening meal. As he neared his home, a convoy of international military vehicles passed him on the road. Suddenly, a car laden with explosives burst into a fireball. Fazal was knocked unconscious by the force of the blast and woke up in hospital.


Last updated: December 31, 2014