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.

Bakhtawar, a grandmother who lives with her extended family in Murtad Kilan village in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, recently planted her very first vegetable garden next to her home. She planted tomatoes, eggplants, gourds, and okra — summer vegetables used in daily cooking but usually available only at markets. Thanks to a USAID-funded program run together with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 500 women like Bakhtawar in three districts are learning how to maintain kitchen gardens and preserve and process their yield.

Sughra Hanif, a woman from a neighborhood called Lyari in Karachi, Pakistan, used to bring along one of her 10 children whenever she went out so they could read her bus schedules and numbers. “Otherwise I couldn’t leave the house,” she said. Hanif, who had never gone to school, moved to Karachi from a village in 1988. “My children would ask me to help them with their homework. I couldn’t,” she said. In 2005, Hanif joined a USAID family literacy center at a government school.

When the wheat began to grow, Abdul Khaliq wasn’t sure he had made the right decision by switching to this new variety of wheat. The young wheat crop looked shorter, and Khaliq worried it would not produce as much grain. He soon saw his fears were unfounded.

Sabiha thought she had typhoid or malaria when she went to a Karachi hospital two years ago with a hacking cough, fever, and loss of appetite. When doctors showed her an x-ray of her ravaged lungs, the 16-year-old panicked. She had tuberculosis. Relatives taunted her family, saying they would never be rid of the disease. “People act strange when you tell them of this disease. They avoid you. They need to be told there is a cure,” said Rukhsana Parveen, a Karachi woman whose husband had TB and is now cured. “If they knew, they wouldn’t behave this way.”

The earthquake that hit Pakistan in October 2005 shifted the flow of freshwater springs and broke pipes that transported clean water from mountain springs through gravity-fed pipe systems. In some cases, the earthquake damaged reservoirs and spring protection chambers. In the Jambori and Hillcot Villages in the Siran Valley, the population began relying on river water for drinking, cooking, and bathing, causing people to contract illnesses from drinking contaminated water.

In the fall, people living in Pakistan’s mountainous terrain at 5,000 feet above sea level usually start moving into the valleys to pass the winter, but the devastating earthquake in October 2005 disrupted this cycle. Subsistence farmers who store their wealth in wood supplies, food, animals, and fodder feared their entire net worth could be stolen if they left their assets unguarded.

Putting in place computer information systems to manage assistance eases relief and recovery efforts and helps relief workers assess priorities. Following the October 2005 earthquake, as villagers received care from first responders, there was a need to systematically record who received what and to identify those who needed care most.

. Working with the people of Bagh, USAID is helping students return to school and villagers rebuild a community.

The rugged Mastung District in Pakistan’s Balochistan province is a vast desert — a sparsely populated area stretching across 6,045 square kilometers. Plagued by drought and poverty, residents subsist on farming and livestock. Wheat forms the staple of their diet, supplemented by lentils and vegetables. Chicken and eggs, when available, provide the only animal protein in local diets. Meat is a luxury reserved for special occasions or guests. “For some people, 100,000 rupees ($1660) is not a large sum. But for us, even 5 rupees is a lot,” said Qaim Khan, an elderly man from Ghausabad village in Mastung.


Last updated: November 22, 2013