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.

On Friday, we posed this question to our audience: What do you think of the way poor countries are portrayed by aid groups and the media?

The question came in light of President Donald Trump's reported description of El Salvador, Haiti and nations in Africa as "shithole countries" last week.

It's an idea that is now spreading around on Twitter in the global development community.

Maybe the reason President Trump called El Salvador, Haiti and nations in Africa "shithole countries" is the way the media and aid groups portray poor countries.

The idea was brought up by Owen Barder, the vice president of the Center for Global Development, a think tank on international issues like aid and poverty, in a tweet he posted on Friday:

Natalie Portman is so done with male bias in Hollywood. On Sunday, before reading out the top picks for best director at the Golden Globes, she said: "Here are the all-male nominees."

She's not the only one who's over industry sexism.

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!

Since 2015, Tariq Khokhar, a data scientist, has been compiling an annual list of top charts from the World Bank. It's a mix of the group's most popular research and what's been trending in the news that year.

The list of charts for 2017, co-produced by his colleague Donna Barne, paint a "pretty good" picture of the world, "as most of human progress has been in the long run," says Khokhar. For example, it's easier than ever for entrepreneurs to start a business.

"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.

Think before you snap that selfie.

That's the serious message of a joint campaign created by two groups that have spent the past few years poking fun at problematic photos taken by Western volunteers. They often have the tendency to paint themselves as saviors to needy people in low-income countries.

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.

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