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.

Across Puerto Rico, hundreds of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Maria are scrambling to apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. For many, it has been a stressful and confusing process. Power and phone lines are down, which makes it nearly impossible for residents to fill out the online form or call the FEMA hotline to ask questions or follow up on the status of their application.

Just seven months ago, Puerto Rican chef Jose Sanchez opened the restaurant of his dreams: a place where you could feel like you were in Italy one day, and like you were in France the next.

He served up fusion cuisine and called it Pera Maraya. There was deconstructed ratatouille, caprese salad with octopus. The restaurant in Carolina, east of San Juan, was getting rave reviews: five stars on Yelp, Trip Advisor and Facebook. He spent nearly a decade saving up to open this restaurant, and was overjoyed at how quickly it found success.

With so much going on in the world right now, we wanted to know from our audience: Which global problem keeps you up at night?

Which global problem keeps you up at night?

That's what we asked Amina J. Mohammed, the deputy secretary-general of the United Nations at the Global Goals Awards ceremony in New York City last week.

It's not an easy question to answer in a world buffeted by disasters: hurricanes, earthquakes, famine and refugee crises.

But without skipping a beat, Mohammed, a Nigerian diplomat who is No. 2 in command at the U.N., said:

It's the latest in a series of Trump remarks that went viral.

Sometimes it's hard to get people to pay attention to the biggest problems of the world — poverty, hunger, disease. But what if they were printed on M&M's?

Why would anyone want to harm an aid worker?

They're just there to help. They don't take sides. They're protected by international humanitarian law. Yet they've repeatedly been the target of some of the worst forms of violence, from kidnapping to gang rape to beheadings. In 2016 alone, 288 aid workers were attacked.

The mid-August monsoon floods in South Asia were the worst in a decade. But for Rajdeep Bora, it's a familiar feeling.

"We suffer two to three floods a year," says the 29-year-old farmer, who lives in Gohpur, Assam, in northeastern India. Last month, his 2-acre rice crop was ruined and he lost two cows — worth about $800.

"The loss of livestock is heartbreaking enough," he says. "But the morning after a flood, there is no clean water to drink. Mobile services and transport shut down. In some parts of Assam, floodwaters don't recede for as many as two months."

After signing up for Airbnb, Godwin Ndosi waited four months for his first guest. That was back in 2015. He went on to become a superhost, renting out his family's house in Arusha, Tanzania, for a bargain rate of $15 a night to tourists from around the world. Did he stick with it?

On Godwin Ndosi's Facebook page, photos from his adventures over the past year — his travels to Europe, wild animals from safari trips he's led to the Serengeti, selfies with tourists who's stayed at his home — fill his timeline.

With a reported 50 inches of rainfall, flash flooding and high, murky waters, Hurricane Harvey in Houston has gripped America's attention. But halfway around the world, another flood has wreaked havoc on historic levels. Two weeks ago, record monsoon rains hit parts of Bangladesh, India and Nepal, bringing the worst floods the region has seen in years. Over 1,200 people have been killed and 24 million affected.

If a famine occurs, aid groups send food. If there's a war, they set up health clinics.

But what to do in event of a massive cyberattack? A new disease epidemic?

A July report has an alarming message for the aid community: adapt or be left in the dust.

Corruption.

Some U.S. officials cite it as one of the biggest reasons to stop giving aid to the developing world.

Sen. Rand Paul, for example, claimed that 70 percent of foreign aid is "skimmed off the top," in January.

But economist Charles Kenny says they've got it wrong. "The evidence that aid is siphoned off isn't there," he says.

The women used to be so nervous about playing wheelchair basketball in public that they had opaque screens erected to conceal the court.

Now their faces are being splashed across media outlets in Afghanistan.

On Sunday, Afghanistan's national women's wheelchair basketball team won its first championship at the 4th annual Bali Cup International Tournament in Indonesia. It played against women's teams from India, Indonesia and Thailand, beating Thailand 65-25 in the final match.

A 50-cent meningitis vaccine. Kid-friendly malaria drugs. A vaccine to prevent a deadly diarrheal disease.

These U.S.-funded global health innovations have saved millions of lives around the world. But they also come with an added bonus for Americans.

They were teenage brothers. They had big dreams to be doctors. But there was no way it could happen. They were living in the middle of the Iran-Iraq war, studying in classrooms set up in tents.

"We thought we were forgotten," says Kamiar Alaei. But that was a long time ago. He's now 42 and an internationally recognized doctor.

When he was 10, a war injury put him in a wheelchair. His spine was permanently damaged. He was so depressed there were days he refused to get out of bed.

Now Mohammadullah Amiri can't wait to get up in the morning.

It's all because of wheelchair basketball. Since the 36-year-old from Afghanistan discovered it, he has become a changed man, says Jess Markt, his coach.

What we eat and how we cook our food tells a story about who we are, where we've come from and what we care about. Our food also connects us to other people — family and friends with whom we share our meals. That's why our favorite dishes often stir up strong memories of people we love.

Over the next month, NPR's The Salt and Goats and Soda blogs are teaming up to present six short cooking videos. Each video will feature one dish made by one person who shares with us the memories they associate with the dish.

The man who fought to make child labor a crime against humanity came to Washington, D.C., last week with a message for America and its new president.

Kailash Satyarthi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his efforts to end child labor, urged U.S. lawmakers to fight for the freedom of 168 million children forced to work due to poverty, trafficking or slavery.

The humanitarian aid system is broken.

That's the message of a new paper by Paul Spiegel, a former senior official at the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The piece was part of a special series on health and humanitarian crises published by the British medical journal The Lancet in early June.

Esraa Yousria Saleh was walking down El Hussein, a busy street in downtown Cairo famous for its souvenirs and tchotchkes, when a man in his early 20s made eye contact with her. He followed her, circled her, then suddenly — she felt a hot breath in her ear:

"I would like to put it all inside."

Saleh, 28, a feminist and activist based in Egypt, was furious. Why did that man feel like he could look at her? Follow her? Say those lewd words to her?

In a tragic turn in South Sudan, an effort to protect 15 children ended up killing them.

The children, all under age 5, died of severe sepsis and toxicity due to a botched vaccination campaign, according to a joint statement issued Thursday by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

"Should America Keep Giving Billions Of Dollars To Countries In Need?"

That was the headline of a story NPR published in early May, looking into a former Trump campaign adviser's claim made during an interview on Morning Edition. Stephen Miller said there's "zero evidence" that U.S. foreign aid has had an effect on economic development.

May 25 is Red Nose Day in the United States.

And millions of people are probably going, "huh, what?"

Each year, the United States sends billions of dollars to poor countries. Does it really help them grow?

The question isn't new.

But it's taken on renewed urgency in the Trump administration. Last month, NPR's David Greene asked Stephen Moore, who advised Trump's campaign on economic policy, whether he supports the idea of cutting the U.S. foreign aid budget. His response: "100 percent."

Last week, it was your editors at Goats and Soda who were the curious goats.

We published a story on the huge gap in health care dollars for young and old in the developing world. A study looked at the $36.4 billion allocated by development agencies and nonprofit donors and found that a major share goes to children under 5.

Morphine. It's why Zubair in Kerala, India, can ride his motorcycle, work at his coffee shop and bring an income home to his family. Without his daily dose, living a normal life is nearly impossible.

When people find out that Malebogo Malefhe uses a wheelchair because she was shot by her boyfriend, the first question they ask is: "What did you do to him?"

Now Malefhe, who sustained eight bullets from her boyfriend of 10 years, wants to make sure that no woman who has faced domestic abuse is asked this question ever again.

The incident in 2009 nearly cost Malefhe her life. Since then, she has devoted herself to fighting gender-based violence in her native Botswana and teaching women that when men hurt them, it's not their fault.

A new report shows that the refugee crisis hasn't slowed down — and people don't always end up where you think.

The flow of refugees is steadily increasing, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR). As of mid-2016, there were 16.5 million refugees globally, 5 million more than in mid-2013. More than 30 percent of all refugees as of mid-2016 came from Syria, the largest source of global refugees.

Last month, Nike released a new digital ad targeted to women in the Arab world. It features different women athletes in the Middle East, including figure skater Zahra Lari from the United Arab Emirates; fencer Inès Boubakri from Tunisia and boxer Arifa Bseiso from Jordan.

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