WASHINGTON – Getting Afghan girls into school,combating the spread of HIV in Rwanda and helping to monitor the Amazon forest in Brazil have proven to be rewarding deals for American businesses.
The Center for U.S. Global Engagement,the new educational arm of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign,a non-profit group,recognized 12 success stories of American investments abroad at a news conference Thursday.
The businesses and organizations have been working in projects all over the world,with the support of U.S. international affairs budget. They support the idea that investing abroad helps to increase U.S. national security,improves the U.S. economy and strengthens democracies and humanitarian values.
The U.S. international affairs budget invested $2.1 billion in economic growth programs,$1.2 billion in democratization programs and $214.7 million to combat diseases worldwide in the last year.
“In some different ways,small investments,just one and a half percent of the entire American budget,is making a difference,every single day,in reinforcing the American interest,” said Liz Schrayer,director of the Center for U.S. Global Engagement.
The center held its first event to release the report,“Working Globally,Acting Locally: Success Stories of the U.S. International Affairs Budget.” The center is part of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign,a coalition of approximately 400 companies that are engaged in global investments.
“Our primary mission is to educate the Americans,policy makers,media and opinion leaders about why the U.S. needs to be engaged globally,” Schrayer said.
She said the world is connected and that what happens in other countries can affect Americans' lives.
U.S. investment in the Amazon forest was one of the program the center pointed out. The American company Raytheon worked to create and operate a system that monitors the Amazon area in Brazil to help the government know what is happening there.
Raytheon won an international competition and was selected by the Brazilian government to run a system called Sivam,which includes satellites,network systems and sensors.
The effort employs more than a thousand Americans,said Mathew G. Gilligan,a Raytheon vice president and Sivam program manager. Brazil was given loans of more than $1 billion by the Export/Import Bank,which is funded by the U.S. international affairs budget,for the project.
“Now,it is up to the Brazilians. The tools are there,and what they do to protect the Amazon,we think,it is going to be very successful,” Gilligan said.
In Afghanistan,U.S. funds helped 4.4 million children to go to schools and trained 55,000 teachers.
Creative Associates International,an organization that works in Afghanistan with the support of U.S. funds,helped thousand of girls to enroll in schools.
Eileen St. George,senior associate of education,mobilization,and communication division of the organization,said that one of the aims of the program was opening classrooms and having some acceptance of mixed-gender classes.
George said communities are willing to send girls to school but they are also unsure about their safety. Creating classes for girls closer to their homes helped alleviate their fears,she said.
Schrayer guaranteed that the work is not changing countries' cultures. She said the center will provide help for countries that want to have an open society and a free market.
“One of the philosophies of our international affairs program is to be very respectful of all cultures,” she said.
The success stories also includes HIV/AIDS prevention in Rwanda,in which CARE,a non-profit organization that fights poverty,is mobilizing communities to combat the spread of the disease.
CARE trains community members who visit orphans to encourage prevention and health care. The program,called Nkundabana,involves seven of 12 Rwandan provinces and more than 14,000 children.