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World Humanitarian Day: Response Coordinator Reflects on Progress Made in Haiti

Yesterday was World Humanitarian Day, a day when we remember the millions of people experiencing conflict, natural disasters, sickness and extreme poverty and the people committed to saving their lives, relieving suffering and empowering those who are struggling make a better life.

At USAID, we have a long history of extending a helping hand to people overseas recovering from disaster and are continuing to respond to humanitarian needs. We support Pakistanis affected by the epic flooding in the country’s south and west. And since January 12, our aid workers and partners have worked hard to help the people of Haiti build back better after the earthquake.

Watch a video featuring Response Coordinator Skip Waskin and learn about humanitarian aid efforts in Haiti.

This Week at USAID – August 16, 2010

Administrator Shah will officially swear-in Alex Dickie to be the Mission Director-designate to Iraq and Mike Harvey to be the Mission Director-designate to West Bank Gaza.

Secretary Clinton gives a speech on the Global Health Initiative (GHI) at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.  The GHI is building on the Bush Administration’s successful record in global health, and taking these remarkable achievements to the next level by further accelerating progress and investing in sustainable health delivery systems.

Apparel Training Center in Haiti Educates Textile Factory Workforce

Forming a Better-Trained Workforce in Haiti
Written By Joanna Stavropoulos, CHF Haiti communications manager

Graduate of USAID-funded garment training center in Haiti

Steve Jean, a graduate of the new USAID-funded Haiti Apparel Center, trains sewing machine operators in Port-au-Prince. Photo by Joanna Stavropoulos/CHF

Steve Jean, 37, grew up in a family of tailors – his mother, father, even his grandfather and before him. When he was a child, more than 100,000 textile workers had jobs in Haiti. Now there are fewer than 20,000.

But USAID is working to change this statistic and bring vitally needed economic development, jobs and investment to Haiti.  On Wednesday, USAID led the inauguration with CHF International for the Haiti Apparel Center (HAC), which will train 2,000 Haitians a year on a wide variety of jobs needed for Haiti to develop its textile manufacturing sector.

Even before HAC’s official opening, Steve graduated from the Center as a trainer for sewing machine operators and has been overseeing workers in apparel factories next door.

Steve’s face shone with pride as he walked me through the 30,000-square-foot freshly refurbished HAC building with its many rows of shiny new sewing machines where he will soon train other Haitians eager to join the textile industry.

“I believe in this, I know it will be a success,” he says with emotion. “There is a future here because Haitians like to work; young people want to work. So if they have the opportunity they will learn and they will prove what they can do.”

Steve explains that it’s difficult to find a family in Haiti without a tailor among its members. “Even if we have 10 or 20 centers like this,” he said, “you will have a lot of people waiting for this opportunity.”

Steve also points out that the sewing machine operators from HAC will learn all the varieties of stitching (single-needle, cover-stitch, lock-stitch and over-lock), which will increase their appeal to a wide variety of potential employers.

The Center will teach virtually the entire spectrum of skills needed by textile manufacturing workers. There will be instruction for sewing machine mechanics, quality control specialists, industrial engineers, supervisors and plant managers. There will even be seminars for top executives and factory owners who wish to further educate themselves about the latest innovations and techniques in the field.

Steve is excited about his job as a trainer. “The main thing that I learned is how to teach,” he says about the three-month long instruction at HAC. “How to explain and when you explain and they don’t understand – how to figure out what you did wrong and become better in the explanation.”

“I very much enjoy teaching,” says Steve, smiling as we stop outside the building. “When you try to figure out what to do to help someone learn and understand, I like that.”

You can see more photos from the HAC inauguration on the USAID Flickr feed.

USAID In the News – August 8-13

USAID’s assistance to the victims of massive flooding in Pakistan received continuing coverage with stories by NPR’s All Things Considered and Christian Science Monitor.  USAID Administrator Shah’s remarks appeared in a Reuters story on the larger effects of the disaster on August 8th and acting OFDA Director Mark Ward provided additional information at the State Department’s daily press briefing on August 10th.

USAID’s commitment to assist the people of Haiti was highlighted with the Associated Press coverage of the inauguration of the Haiti Apparel Center in Port-au-Prince while the Los Angeles Times explored programs to ease unemployment.

USAID Administrator Shah spoke in Seattle, Washington about the impact of technology on development.

USAID In the News – August 2-6

On Tuesday, Administrator Shah joined President Obama at the White House for the President’s Town Hall with young African leaders to discuss their vision for Africa for the next 50 years.  USAID programs highlight America’s commitment to supporting the next generation of African leaders.

On Wednesday, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to brief the press on the latest developments in assistance to the victims of flooding in Pakistan. On Thursday, an additional $25 million in assistance was announced – bringing the overall contribution to $35 million.  USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance Acting Director Mark Ward and Daniel Feldman in the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan spoke with journalists at the start of the State Department’s daily briefing to detail the additional aid.

USAID continued the discussion of the importance of science, technology and innovation in global development in a joint op-ed in the Huffington Post by USAID Administrator Shah and Dr. John P. Holdren, the president’s science and technology advisor.

Ambassador Garvelink spoke at two sessions during the International Food Aid and Development Conference in Kansas City.  His keynote address underscored the U.S. commitment to addressing global hunger and food security, highlighting the whole-of-government approach and goals of Feed the Future.

Telling Our Story

USAID successes are once again being broadcast to the world through the recently revamped USAID Telling Our Story page, and now you can catch the latest and greatest tales right here on the blog. That’s right, Telling Our Story, a site bursting with stories of development success and progress, is up and running. Check out one of the latest stories about conflict resolution in Kenya:

For years, banditry, arms smuggling, and a crisis of national identity have prevented members of the same Ogaden clan from reaching peace along the Kenya/Somalia border, but residents on both sides are now taking the first steps towards collaboration.

Thanks to USAID, the divided clan members have found mutual interests in their desire for a maternity wing, a much needed addition to their community’s dispensary….(more)

This Week at USAID – August 2, 2010

Administrator Shah will join President Obama at the White House for a town hall during the Presidential Young African Leaders Forum.  As a global leader in empowering and engaging youth, USAID works to ensure that young people have access to skills and opportunities to be active and effective citizens who contribute to their country’s overall stability and development.

Ambassador Garvelink, Deputy Coordinator of Feed the Future, will speak at two sessions during the International Food Aid and Development Conference in Kansas City.  His keynote address will underscore the U.S. commitment to addressing global hunger and food security, highlighting the whole-of-government approach and goals of Feed the Future.

Interns Meet Administrator Shah

Interns from the Legislative and Public Affairs Bureau with Administrator Shah.

Submitted by Michael J. Del Moro, FrontLines Intern, USAID

The buzz about a fresh, youthful energy infiltrating the agency was at full pitch today when a group of student interns got the chance to meet Administrator Shah in an informal setting. For months, young-ins like me had experienced the abundance of energy and passion for success at USAID and have now found the source: a sharp, well-spoken leader with the ability to change the way people think about development.

Forty of my colleagues and I had the privilege of taking pictures with Dr. Shah and listening to his plea for us to accept that the big issues of world hunger, disease and lawlessness are not indefinite tragedies, but solvable problems.

The Administrator spoke off-the-cuff for about 10 minutes before fielding questions ranging from how he got to where he is to how he intends to improve Agency deficiencies like understaffing.

Interns walked away with a photo with a VIP and insight into USAID leadership. I hope the Administrator walked away excited about our enthusiasm. We are proud to be the next generation of development professionals.

This Week at USAID – July 26, 2010

Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Management Drew Luten will testify before the Commission on Wartime Contracting on Subcontracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Administrator Shah and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke will appear before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations for an oversight hearing on corruption in Afghanistan.

Chief Innovation Officer Maura O’Neill will participate in a briefing entitled: Innovation to Catalyze Development: Leveraging Research in Foreign Assistance, which is organized by the Global Health Technologies Coalition and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.

Administrator Shah will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere about: The Crisis in Haiti: Are We Moving Fast Enough?  He will also brief the Congressional Black Caucus about efforts in Haiti.

How to describe the International AIDS Conference in Vienna?

Submitted by Robert Clay, Director of USAID’s Office of HIV/AIDS

Robert Clay briefs VOA's global broadcast community. Photo by VOA

Over 20,000 people (a small city) all focusing on one of the greatest development problems of our time. The first thing that strikes you is the diversity of those at the meeting – from the famous (Bill Clinton and Bill Gates) to academia (professors and students) to civil society and advocates to multilateral and bilateral donors to pharma. There are talks, seminars, posters, demonstrations (even in the plenary sessions), exhibits, condom demonstrations, cultural events, marches, press conferences, and lots of reports and products to take home. At times, it reminds me of a village scene in India where I lived for 5 years – crowded, colorful, loud, unpredictable, widely diverse, and even wonderful food smells.

There is definitely a buzz in the air. The results of the USAID-funded CAPRISA 004 trial results has excited everyone – standing ovations and tears from those who have waited so long for good microbicide news. But also excitement at seeing other results since the last meeting two years ago and hearing insightful analysis on how to overcome barriers. There is personal excitement of seeing old friends and colleagues and making new contacts in this diverse setting.

But concerns are also there. Will the money dry up? Will leaders change negative policies that fuel stigma? Will we be able to stop the number getting infected? These are big issues and everyone here seems consumed in trying to solve these problems.

This has been intensive and on the last day you can see the tired and sleep deprived faces. I don’t think people could do this any longer – especially since so many want to get back to implementing all the new ideas. But after a good rest, I’m sure most will have renewed energy and determination from Vienna. I know I can’t wait to get back to work!

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