I remember the first time I ever heard about USAID. I was a young child travelling to Bombay -- now Mumbai -- to see my relatives. Before returning home, my uncle insisted that I travel with him to one of the slums near his family's home.
I was shocked by what I saw. There were pits of open sewage, and children were running through garbage and waste. It was clear that none of those kids went to school. The children were about my own age, but they looked thinner and smaller and more frail than I was. We were the same age and the same race, but the lottery of life guaranteed that we would have very different futures.
As we were leaving the slum, I saw a billboard describing a local water treatment system that the city was putting in place with the support of the U.S. government. Right in the middle of this billboard was a logo depicting a handshake; it was the logo of USAID.
In recent years, we've added a tagline that represents that handshake: from the American people. But in my time now at USAID, I've come to learn that our assistance is not just from the American people. It's also for the American people. Our assistance develops new markets for American goods, keeps our country safe by preventing and scaling back conflict, and expresses our nation's collective values.
For fifty years, USAID's assistance has developed new markets for American goods, kept our country safe preventing violence and scaling back conflict and expressed our nation's collective values in response to crises like last year's Haiti earthquake. I'm proud of this Agency's legacy and eager to bring a renewed spirit of innovation and strategic thinking to our development portfolio.
You can learn more about our Agency's history and our future at: http://50.usaid.gov.