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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.

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.

Readers also were drawn to stories of injustice (like the gang rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in India) and looming dangers (the thawing permafrost in Alaska could release billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere).

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.

The words mean "no worries" in Swahili, a language spoken in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Estimates for the number of speakers vary widely, from 60 to 150 million.

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.

Many of the images we see of refugees, migrants and immigrants portray them as burdens on society or victims of oppression.

A new photo show, Another Way Home, offers a different narrative.

In February, Chris Junior Anaekwe recruited a dozen teenage boys to help him shovel out trash from street gutters near a busy market in his hometown of Onitsha, Nigeria. As a result, people around the world praised him as a shining example to local youth. How is his campaign against trash going?

The latest Mission Impossible film is a global health nerd's dream. There's an immunization campaign. Weaponized smallpox. A medical camp run by a fictional aid organization. And of course: Tom Cruise chasing the bad guy in a helicopter over the disputed region of Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan (spoiler alert: that was filmed in New Zealand).

So what does a real-life health worker make of all that?

In March, I interviewed Cedric Habiyaremye, a 31-year-old Ph.D. student at Washington State University who is trying to get Rwandan farmers to grow and eat quinoa. How's his project going?

Cedric Habiyaremye, 31, wanted Rwandan farmers to get excited about quinoa because of its nutritional punch. But now, he says, they're a little too excited.

What's it like to live in Honduras today — and why do so many people want to leave?

Those are the questions that photojournalist Tomas Ayuso, who grew up in the Central American country, explores in a project he calls "The Right To Grow Old."

Imagine an aid worker in Bangladesh. Her mother tongue is Chittagonian. She's trying to help a Rohingya refugee, whose language is similar to hers — but not 100 percent.

It's a haunting image. At dusk, hundreds of Rohingya refugees at a camp in Bangladesh are huddled around a projector, looking at something just outside the frame — a film about health and sanitation.

That photo, taken on an iPhone by documentary photographer Jashim Salam of Bangladesh, is the grand prize-winning photo of the 2018 iPhone Photography Awards.

Like millions of global citizens, Abraham Leno has been riveted by the story of the 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave in Thailand.

"I sat around the radio with my family and we wanted to hear the recent updates of the kids, every little detail," he says. "To see all the governments sending their best divers, giving them equipment, offering their moral support — it was a beautiful thing to see."

Under a little white tent at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., an artist named Ruben Malayan is teaching kids and visitors how to write the letter "A" in Armenian calligraphy.

Little do they know that Malayan, 47, is the creator of the iconic protest posters that became a symbol of Armenia's revolution in April. A report from Al-Jazeera in May called Malayan's placards the "pop art of the revolution."

What do you wish you'd known before becoming a parent?

In May, we asked our audience this question at the start of How To Raise A Human, our month-long special series on how to make parenting easier.

A new report looks at the state of humanitarian aid.

The world was generous, says the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2018. A record amount of funds went to crises that range from the ongoing Syrian civil war to the drought in the Horn of Africa.

"Forget all your worries and let's party."

It's an irresistible command from a 10-year-old girl standing on a box behind a DJ booth, tapping her feet and shaking her hips.

It seems like a pretty simple thing. When a humanitarian group hands out bags of food or sets up toilets for people who are poor or recovering from a crisis, the group puts its logo on the product.

It's a way of taking credit, which makes donors happy. It's a way of letting the recipients know where to complain if there's a problem. And if you're sitting at home and catch the logo on a TV report, you might be inspired to contribute to that particular charity.

But now, some people are questioning the branding of aid goods.

What do China, India, South Sudan and the United States have in common?

They are among the 92 countries where there is no national policy that allow dads to take paid time off work to care for their newborns.

According to a data analysis released on Thursday by UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, almost two-thirds of the world's children under age 1 — nearly 90 million — live in countries where dads are not entitled by law to take paid paternity leave. In these countries, this policy is typically decided by employers.

Politicians lie about foreign aid to win votes.

Charities lie about the impact of foreign aid to stay funded.

Aid workers lie to themselves about the impact of a project.

In a new book called Why We Lie About Aid: Development And The Messy Politics Of Change, Pablo Yanguas explains how these mischaracterizations have created a dysfunctional aid system that hurts the people who need help most.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story that originally ran on May 25, 2017.

May 24 is Red Nose Day in the United States.

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