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.

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."

Ruben Malayan, a lean, goateed artist, is teaching kids and visitors at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., to write the letter "A" in Armenian calligraphy.

On a sheet of computer paper, he inks a shape that looks like an old English "W," using a pen with a flat metal nib. His strokes — black line after black line, in perfect symmetrical succession — are hypnotic.

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.

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.

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.

What's the one thing you wish someone had told you before you became a parent?

It's a question we're asking our audience as part of How To Raise A Human, a new series from NPR's Science desk. Over the next month, we'll be looking at some of the tough issues that every parent faces — from baby sleep to getting kids to do chores — and visiting families around the world to see what they do.

What's the best way to protect girls and women from being bullied, beaten and sexually assaulted?

The truth is, we don't really have a lot of evidence.

Although gender-based violence affects 35 percent of women worldwide, it's a "substantially neglected" area of research, according to the Sexual Violence Research Initiative, a South Africa-based group. That's why, together with the World Bank, they are investing in new ideas and solutions to find the best ways to fight it.

The weekly potluck started simply enough. A new intern sent a Filipino-American colleague an email titled "Filipino intern looking to find other NPR Pinoys."

"He's looking for other Filipinos in the building to hang out with," my colleague told me, forwarding the email. "You should come to lunch with us."

I'm a Filipino-Egyptian-American. In my decade of working in Washington, D.C., I had never thought to reach out to my fellow kababayan, Tagalog for "countrymen," at the workplace for camaraderie and companionship — until this intern's very earnest request.

He owes it all to his mom — and a 25 cent loan that he used to start a candy business.

Those are the keys to the success of Cedric Habiyaremye, who's gone from a miserable youngster in a refugee camp in Tanzania to a Ph.D. student studying crop science at Washington State University.

Editor's Note: This story was updated on February 5 to include information about the scope of the Stella Artois offer.

In a new Super Bowl ad, Matt Damon makes a bold promise: Buy a limited-edition Stella Artois chalice and your money will help give a clean water supply to someone in the developing world for five years.

Pope Francis has some surprising things to say about the state of the world.

On Monday, Pope Francis delivered his annual address to his diplomatic corps, ambassadors from 183 nations to the Holy See. The speech outlined a bold vision for a peaceful, free and just world. The pontiff touched on themes that have been in the headlines, like the Syrian war and the Rohingya refugee crisis.

When I read Esther Ngumbi's story about "Kenyan time," I burst into laughter.

In my culture, we have that, too — except we call it "Filipino time." Just like Kenyans, social events and appointments don't really start at the scheduled hour. Heck, in our family, we'd stroll into Sunday mass 30 minutes late!

"Feminism" was the most looked-up word in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary in 2017.

We've profiled some extraordinary women in Goats and Soda this year who should be cited in the dictionary's definition. They pursued their goals in the face of poverty, war and prejudice.

On December 1, we ran a story about "the best and worst charity of ads of 2017."

I always get excited putting together Goats and Soda's list of most-read stories of the year. To me, it reveals a lot about how our audience feels about the world. What did you find surprising? Share-worthy? Illuminating?

You loved the stories that got you woke: how to ethically take selfies while volunteering abroad; how the Western media visually portrays women and girls in the developing world.

For the past couple of days, Johan Mooij has been holed up in his basement.

He's the country director for CARE in Yemen, and recent airstrikes sent him underground for safety.

Despite the destruction, disease and starvation he has witnessed in his two months in Sanaa, he has also seen countless examples of hospitality, concern and care among the Yemeni people — as well as signs of progress in controlling cholera.

"I think this is why this country has been able to keep up for so long," he says.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published on December 1 and has been updated.

World AIDS Day was December 1. The White House hung a red ribbon. Hundreds of red balloons were released in the air in Brazil. And Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their first appearance as a royal couple at an AIDS charity event in Nottingham, U.K.

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.

Before Hurricane Maria, Brian Gonzalez could sling 500 empanadillas, fried Puerto Rican empanadas, each day to tourists from cruise ships stopping at Old San Juan. On a recent day, he sold less than 50.

It's the story of many street vendors that depend on sightseers and visitors to San Juan's biggest attractions.

Before Hurricane Maria five weeks ago, there were dancers in the square, music in the street and hardly a parking space in sight. Power outages have since turned tourist hotspots like oceanfront Condado and Old San Juan into a dark and empty ghost town.

Before they hand over the cash, Mercy Corps staffers are going door to door to find out: What would people buy?

If Karian Batista had $100, she would buy food. "I don't have enough for the kids," she says.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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