A Birthday Wish. Join Us For the #USAIDSummerSeries Film Festival

Cake and candles are great, but our favorite birthday present would be a virtual visit by you!

Yes, from you. USAID’s loyal digital followers who are passionate about development and the fine art of storytelling. And, storytelling with impact at that.

Just over a year ago the U.S. Agency for International Development launched the Extreme Possibilities Storytelling Hub (newcomers can read about ithere), a multimedia platform for showcasing documentary-style stories about people on the path out of poverty.

Call us crazy, but we believe that human stories make the best case for why U.S. Government development dollars around the globe are an investment worth making. Your overwhelming response supported our case!

During the past year, a moving story about Ms. Maha  -- a compassionate principal in Jordan opening her classroom to refugee students  --  was shared thousands of times on Mashable, viewed more than 500,000 times on Upworthy and featured on the NBC Nightly News. Each of the more than 25 stories and 35 films featured on the hub has been shared by thousands of people on digital platforms across the web.

While the clicks and views accumulated along the way are exciting, the real reward is witnessing our empowered film subjects share their own voices.

Ask Amani, a brilliant young Palestinian inventor of a device that helps blind children learn to read braille. As she saw images of herself flash across the exhibit hall at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit last month, just moments before President Obama took to the stage, she couldn’t help but text an exuberant selfie to our content director Kelly Ramundo, who produced the film.“I’m like Beyonce,” she wrote. “But with a headscarf!”

We don’t always see change happen in front of us, but in this moment, we think Amani’s life changed forever! One life changed may inspire 10 more to be the change in their village, their school or their workplace. With that, we look forward to connecting you to voices across the globe.

31 Days, 31 Stories

We invite you to celebrate the birthday of our storytelling hub by participating in the USAID Summer Series Film Fest during the month of July.

From ancient ruins in Egypt to a remote village in Tanzania to an urban enclave of Honduras, our short documentary series of films circle the globe to tell stories of people experiencing empowerment through development.

Each day in July, we will unveil a new film on USAID’s Facebook page.

Join us on the #USAIDSummerSeries Film Festival journey by checking back each day and sharing your favorite stories on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

USAID staff, filmmakers and film subjects on location in Egypt to produce Sons of Luxor, a story for the USAID Extreme Possibilities Storytelling Hub. [Thomas Cristofoletti, USAID]

An Opportunity To Uplift Their Voices

And in case you missed it, here are a few highlights from Week 1. Thanks for giving rise to good in the world and keep checking stories.usaid.gov for more uplifting storytelling in the months to come!


Sisters Najlae and Rajae have always been obsessed with cars, even though in their native Morocco, it’s rare to see a woman outside of a few traditional fields of work. See how these aspiring mechanics are upending expectations.


Odalis and her husband, David, who live in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, have been through many struggles together. David, a former gang member and drug addict, has overcome his past life and is now sober and working in a food-distribution warehouse thanks to USAID’s Metas workforce development program.


The only thing that French teacher Hoda Raad would love more than running would be running through a lush green space. That’s one of the reasons she’s bringing diverse sects of her community together for a common goal  --  turning the Beqaa Valley green again.

About the Author: Ellie Van Houtte is a Multimedia Storyteller on the USAID strategic communications team. 

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on USAID's "2030: Ending Extreme Poverty in this Generation" Publication on Medium.com.

Filmmaker Dave Cooper on location in Jordan to produce Raghad’s Refuge, a story for the USAID Extreme Possibilities Storytelling Hub. [Thomas Cristofoletti for USAID]
Posted by Ellie Van Houtte
July 11, 2016


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