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.

Husband-and-wife bakery owners Faton Deshishku and Valbona Raifi both grew up eating grandma dishes steeped in tradition. Today, with USAID’s help, they are sharing those recipes with customers with a hankering for savoring (but none of the time for making) those same delights in their own homes.

Working from family and other recipes, City Bakery’s nine employees make everything to order in an orderly and bright basement kitchen. The couple owns the space, located in the heart of downtown Pristina—a twofold commercial advantage.

The ordered tangle of blue, green and red lines on Krenar Spahija’s computer screen may well map out the way to a prosperous future for Kosovo, this small country in Southeastern Europe. 

The engineer’s design for a printed circuit board provides a glimpse of a high-tech product being made in a country with a largely low-tech economy. It’s just one way that Spahija’s employer, Pristina-based Tekfuze, bucks expectations.

The Okavango Delta is home to elephants, rhinos and other natural wildlife.  Poaching and unsustainable harvesting are among many threats faced by the Basin's wild inhabitants. 

When a crowd of around 70 people listened to Aytekin Verdiyeva make an impassioned speech in August 2012 on women’s leadership in Azerbaijan, no one could have guessed it was her first public oration. Her feelings seemed to overwhelm her as she made her first speech as a government official.

Constrained by conservative social values, most women in Azerbaijan never achieve prominence in public and professional roles. But if Verdiyeva’s story is any indication, that situation is gradually changing. 

Conflicts between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Meiktila, Burma, resulted in the death of over 40 community members, and the destruction of numerous homes and community buildings in spring 2013. Violence continued to spread southward, increasing concern about a widespread outbreak of violence. 

Following the outbreaks, in April, USAID, through its Office of Transition Initiatives, supported a local youth organization to disseminate their messages of tolerance and peace.

For decades, conflict-affected communities in Burma have experienced limited international assistance. However, the country's recent political reforms have reversed that trend—but with a cost. Despite the best of intentions, the newfound assistance has the potential to shift power dynamics and exacerbate local conflict by inadvertently shifting power dynamics and introducing new resources to be competed over. 

In 2012, the mayor’s office in Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire, imposed a yearly licensing fee of $50 (25,000 CFA) on each transporter and taxi driver. Revenue from the licensing fee was intended for road repairs and other improvements to transportation infrastructure in Bouaké. However, the roads remained in a state of complete disrepair, and attempts to collect the fee triggered protests and refusals to pay among transporters and taxi drivers who saw the fee as unreasonable since they did not see the funds put to good use.

When word of the demonstration spread through Facebook, Inas Miloud was ready to act. Sitting at a USAID-supported information center in western Libya’s Nafusa Mountains, Miloud got online and exchanged messages with other activists who were planning to rally for women’s representation on the committee that will draft the nation’s new constitution. On June 1, 2013, she traveled to Tripoli, took to the street, and made her voice heard.

“Without the information center, I would not have heard about the demonstration or been able to take part,” said Miloud.

Vesa Gashi has a plan for anyone and everyone in Kosovo with a reason to celebrate. Whether you’re getting married, celebrating a birthday or just hankering to party, Gashi, 26, is here to help. Since Gashi began her own event management company in 2012, she has planned more than 150 bashes, soirées and other parties.

“I offer everything and even if I don’t have it, I find it,” says Gashi. “I make it happen.”

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Last updated: December 24, 2013