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.

Marwa Ahmed’s normal life ended in 2006 when her father was killed and her family fled to Syria in the midst of the violence that then gripped Iraq. Eventually, she and her three siblings returned to Baghdad.

“I was proud of being Iraqi and just wanted to live peacefully in my own country,” she remembers.

At the start of 2010, Iraq had one of the highest rates of unemployment in the Middle East. Thirty percent of its adults lacked jobs. More than half of the country's young urban males were unemployed. At 19 percent, female participation in the workforce was even lower, according to World Bank estimates.
Restless youths, desperate for something to do, often joined terrorist militias, perpetuating the cycle of violence.

Young activists in Libya took to the road to help youth better navigate the roadmap of the country’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. From November 2012-April 2013, the civil society group H20 crisscrossed the country's vast countryside in a grassroots campaign to raise awareness and promote public participation in drafting a new constitution.

What does “human rights” mean? More importantly, what does it mean to me?

When Mohammed Magarief, president of Libya's General National Congress, attended the opening of the Mafqood Center for Missing Persons on Dec. 17, 2012, he provided a DNA sample to help in the search for his brother, Azzat, who has been missing since the 1990s.

His is by no means a unique case. Thousands of families are still searching for answers, with “up to 10,000 people missing … from Libya’s recent conflict” and decades of oppression, as explained in the November 2012 issue of The Economist.

When times are tough, Nafas Gul Bakhtanai shows exceptional toughness. Forced to flee Afghanistan on account of the Taliban, she worked in a shoe factory in Pakistan. Returning to Jalalabad 12 years later, she refused to be disheartened by the fact that jobs were scarce and her husband could not support their family of nine. Instead, Nafas scraped the money together to buy 14 kilos of wheat. She turned it into farina, selling the cereal to put food on the table.

All too often, Kamila Sidiqi is the only woman at business meetings and she is very aware that her presence makes some of the men uncomfortable. To Kamila, this is proof that her current venture is crucial.

When Kandahar held a jobs fair, it was a first for Afghanistan’s second largest city. Eight private firms attended and it drew 33 job seekers, nine of them women. Till then, says Haji Nazir Ahmed who works in a local business, the city’s employment practices relied on knowing someone’s antecedents rather than their abilities.

In September 2013, the marginalized northern population of Sri Lanka will experience a historic event—the opportunity to vote in the first Northern Provincial Council Elections. But a significant hurdle exists. An estimated 85,000 registered voters lack a National Identity Card (NIC), which must be presented at the polling station on Election Day. 

Many lost their NICs while displaced during the country's 30-year civil war. Others never had one because they were living under a rebel administration.


Last updated: January 16, 2015