Malaka Gharib

Malaka Gharib is deputy editor and digital strategist of Goats and Soda, NPR's global health and development blog. She reports on topics such as the humanitarian aid sector, gender equality, and innovation in the developing world.

Before coming to NPR in 2015, Gharib was the digital content manager at Malala Fund, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai's global education charity, and social media and blog editor for ONE, a global anti-poverty advocacy group founded by Bono. Gharib graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism and marketing.

A few days ago, my dad gave me a call. "When we land in D.C., it's going to be Eid al-Adha," he said. "You know, the one where we eat kharouf."

No, I did not know. I had never observed the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Although my father is a Muslim, my mother is Filipino and a strict Catholic. My parents divorced when I was a child. For most of my life, my dad lived in Cairo while I grew up in Southern California. I'd visit him in the summertime. But the trips never intersected with an Eid celebration.

Ten years ago, Renee Bach left her home in Virginia to set up a charity to help children in Uganda. One of her first moves was to start a blog chronicling her experiences.

Among the most momentous: On a Sunday morning in October 2011, a couple from a village some distance away showed up at Bach's center carrying a small bundle.

"When I pulled the covering back my eyes widened," Bach wrote in the blog. "For under the blanket lay a small, but very, very swollen, pale baby girl. Her breaths were frighteningly slow. ... The baby's name is Patricia. She is 9 months old."

It's not easy giving money to people in need.

In some countries, poor people may not have a bank account where a charity can transfer funds for financial aid. They may not have the ID — say, a birth certificate — required to cash a check at a bank.

And in an emergency situation — say, the aftermath of an earthquake — banks may not even be operating.

Could a single global digital currency — one that can be transferred through mobile phones — be a solution?

Stroll down the menstrual products aisle of your neighborhood drugstore, and you'll see a dizzying array of disposable pads and tampons in dozens of brands, shapes, colors and sizes.

Tucked away on one of the shelves, you might see a lesser-known option: the reusable menstrual cup.

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In June, an unusual email arrived in the inbox of an NPR global health correspondent.

It's a brand new ranking.

Called the Sustainable Development Goals Gender Index, it gives 129 countries a score for progress on achieving gender equality by 2030.

Here's the quick summary: Things are "good" in much of Europe and North America.

And "very poor" in much of sub-Saharan Africa.

In fact, that's the way it looks in many international rankings, which tackle everything from the worst places to be a child to the most corrupt countries to world happiness.

It's a cotton T-shirt. It costs $395. It's from Balenciaga, the luxury brand. And it bears the logo of the World Food Programme, the U.N. agency that provides food aid to disaster zones.

The shirt is part of a line of WFP-emblazoned streetwear, with some of the proceeds going to the charity. The collection, which also includes a $790 sweatshirt and $850 fanny pack, launched last year, and people in the aid community are debating: Is this a good way for a charity to promote itself?

May 23 is Red Nose Day in the United States.

March 15 was Red Nose Day in the United Kingdom.

Both are charity events involving red foam noses sold as part of fundraising campaigns to fight child poverty around the world.

The Colonial Roots Of Pimiento Cheese

May 19, 2019

Trinidad Escobar

Selamawit Lake Fenta, a midwife from Ethiopia, would like to change a lot of things about her profession — including its name in her country.

And she has made an impact in another crusade: fair pay.

This week, Fenta was one of five midwife champions selected by the International Confederation of Midwives for the International Day of the Midwife on May 5. The group picked the five from nominations submitted by members from 122 countries. The goal was to honor midwives who've made an impact in their community.

This month, one of the big news stories is about parents who bribed and cheated to get their kids into prestigious universities.

And then there's the college admissions story of John Awiel Chol Diing.

Diing, 25, is a former refugee from South Sudan and grew up in U.N.-supported camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. His family couldn't even afford high school fees, let alone college tuition.

But today, thanks to an unlikely series of events, he is a student at Earth University in Costa Rica, finishing up his fourth year studying agricultural science.

A hashtag called #ThisIsMyHustle started trending in Nigeria in mid-March after Sadiq Abubakar, 30, a small-business owner from Abuja, organized a Twitter chat for his entrepreneur friends.

"I said, 'Let's do a hashtag and let the world know what we do,' " he says. "Young Nigerians are very determined to succeed. What we hear about young Nigerian people is that we are lazy. But we are hardworking. We want to make it."

Earlier this year, millions of women lined up to form a human "wall" of protest to call for gender equality in India. The story is one of many from our blog that we're highlighting for International Women's Day — dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in all arenas: social, economic, cultural, political and personal.

To highlight the March 8 commemoration, here are some of the remarkable women and women's movements we've covered over the past year.

In recent weeks, thousands of women and young people in Afghanistan as well as Afghans living abroad have been protesting and speaking out against peace talks taking place between the U.S. and the Taliban.

Activists say that the views of the Taliban — whose harsh rule from 1996 to 2001 was notorious for repression of women — do not reflect the views and needs of Afghan people. They fear a Taliban return to power will undermine the progress that the country has worked to build since the regime fell nearly two decades ago.

We all need symbols to navigate the world.

Some of them are very clear, like a stop sign or a green light.

Some are not quite as apparent — like these hilariously confusing toilet signs.

And people who work in specialized fields also benefit when there are efficient icons that tell them what's going on.

When Mashiyat Rahman, 22, texts her friends about her period, she sends them the "crying" emoji to describe her mood, the "knife" emoji to describe painful cramps and the "sweat" emoji — which looks like water droplets — to illustrate a heavy flow.

In her 20 years of researching menstrual health, Chris Bobel has run across a lot of myths — that menstruation makes a girl unclean, that menstrual pain isn't as bad as women claim.

But she has also seen a lot of myths spread by the very people seeking to fight those misconceptions.

That is what she explores in her new book, The Managed Body: Developing Girls and Menstrual Health in the Global South. Bobel finds that a surprising amount of misinformation is fueling the work of charities and nonprofits in the menstrual health sector.

One in 3 U.N. employees has reported being sexually harassed in the past two years, according to a survey that the United Nations released last week.

It's part of an unfortunate trend in the humanitarian sector: complaints about sexual harassment, bullying and other unacceptable workplace behavior.

In a prime-time address from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, President Trump said there is a "growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border."

Aid groups agree that what is happening on the border meets the definition of a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of migrants are fleeing Central America to seek asylum in the U.S., a journey that puts many at risk of health problems and human trafficking as well as detainment by U.S. authorities.

Three American women of Taiwanese descent are cooking up the dishes of their youth: dumplings, roasted pork belly, sticky rice buns, shaved ice.

Except they're not using food. They're using materials like plaster, paint and porcelain.

Remarkably, the artists don't know each other in real life, only through Instagram. But they share a common goal: to re-create the foods of their culture in sculpture to pay homage to their heritage.

It was an epic year for women activists. Nadia Murad, who had been sexually enslaved by ISIS, was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight against human trafficking. She was one of many women who made news — and made changes — in 2018. Here are six inspiring women we profiled on Goats and Soda in 2018.

Which Goats and Soda stories were most popular this year?

You loved the stories that looked to the developing world that offered insights into the way we live our lives: how to sit without hurting your back; whether it's OK to sleep with your baby.

A years-old Disney trademark on the use of the phrase "Hakuna Matata" on T-shirts has stirred up a new debate among Swahili speakers about cultural appropriation.

It's a question that charities often debate: How should their fund-raising ads portray the people they're trying to help?

If the ads display graphic human suffering to elicit donations, they run the risk of exploiting the subjects or making them look helpless.

If the ads are more upbeat — showing aid recipients who are smiling, for example — they may ignore the subject's strife and put the power to transform the subject's life in the hands of rich, Western donors.

I was having a tough summer.

I was working a day job while writing a book, sometimes pulling 14-hour days. I felt overcome with guilt when I wasn't working toward my deadline. I hardly had time to see friends. Most of my down time was spent in an unhealthy way: scrolling through social media.

I was irritated, isolated and anxious. For the first time in my life, I started going to therapy, which was difficult for me to admit to myself that I needed.

"God don butta my bread!"

That's how you say "my wish has been granted" in pidgin English in Nigeria. It's one of the many pidgin phrases that Prince Charles sprinkled into his speeches in Africa's most populous nation during a nine-day trip to West Africa in November.

He also said, "If life dey show you pepper, my guy make pepper soup!" — akin to the saying "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

The audiences laughed.

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed last year when I saw them: photo after photo of my POC friends' Thanksgiving tables, decked out with not just turkey and stuffing, but the traditional dishes of their culture.

One Korean family served bright red radish kimchi; an Egyptian family prepared dozens of stuffed grape leaves; and one Taiwanese family included takeout mapo tofu — probably a potluck addition from a guest.

For my grandpa's 90th birthday, our family threw him a barrio fiesta-themed bash.

We decorated the backyard with colorful bunting so it would look like the neighborhood parties that Tatay grew up with in his home country of the Philippines. We ordered a big lechon, a roasted pig. And the guests were asked to wear filipiniana, traditional Filipino costume.

On Monday, Farhad Javid will meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his wife, Rula Ghani, to ask whether the president will order the release of some 190 women and girls who are currently in jail for failing a virginity test.

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