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.

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.

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.

Kanye West, who can never resist a Twitter controversy, sent out a seemingly bland tweet to his 28 million followers on Monday.

His tweet about the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals — a set of 17 goals to end extreme poverty, abolish inequality and improve the environment, among other things, by 2030 — has left the global development community scratching their heads.

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.

The column was supposed to draw attention to a crisis in a country that Americans don't often hear about in the media: the Central African Republic.

Instead, it drew fury on social media this week for its portrayal of CAR and the sources interviewed. Sarah Knuckey, a professor at Columbia University's law school and the co-director of the university's Human Rights Institute, called it "shallow" and "reckless" in its reporting.

Last week, we posed this question to our audience: When do charitable partnerships cross the line?

The question came in light of a recent alliance between the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Heineken. The beer giant is offering its communications and logistics expertise to help with the delivery of health-care supplies in markets where Heineken already has an extensive distribution system.

Maryangel Garcia Ramos wears silver glitter eye shadow. She once raised hell at a Killers concert because the venue wouldn't let her rock out with her wheelchair in front of the stage. And she wants you to know that yes, people with disabilities do have sex.

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