Recently I spent two action-packed days visiting the West Bank where I saw the tremendous impact that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) West Bank and Gaza Mission’s work has in many sectors and witnessed several innovative projects.
The work we are doing in the education sector and with youth is among the most exciting. USAID is currently partnering with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education on a national reading campaign to raise the public’s awareness of the importance of reading and to encourage everyone to read. I told students at the Al Haffasi coeducational elementary school in Kafr Al Labad, in the Tulkarem Governorate what a gift reading is. The slogan for our campaign “Today’s Readers Tomorrow’s Leaders,” rings true and I encouraged all of the students to grab a book and spend time reading, dreaming and learning. At the school we distributed dozens of books to the students, including popular works of American fiction and non-fiction like “Colors in the Desert” and “Mystery at the Museum” translated into Arabic that I am certain the students will enjoy.
USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Romanowski briefed at Beit Fajjar in the West Bank on environmental issues and proper disposal of waste and sewage.
I was pleased to see that the mission’s implementation of the High Impact Micro Infrastructure Initiative, a $100 million initiative announced by Secretary of State John Kerry in November 2013, is advancing according to schedule, with more than 40 infrastructure activities underway, and more scheduled to begin in the near future. These infrastructure projects are coordinated with the Palestinian Authority and municipal authorities to support Palestinian national priorities and include construction or renovation of health clinics, road repairs, construction of community centers and school, and other similar projects. This initiative aims to provide Palestinians with quick, tangible infrastructure improvements in dozens of communities throughout the West Bank.
The range of people and projects that I saw over the course of two days was impressive. While the challenges that numerous people and communities face are serious, their innovation and ingenuity are incredible and inspiring.
Editor's Note: This entry originally appeared on USAID's Impact Blog.