Malaka Gharib

Sixty years ago this week, President John F. Kennedy established the United States Agency for International Development.

It's one of the largest foreign aid agencies in the world. With a budget of tens of billions of dollars, it does everything from supporting girls' education in lower-income countries to spearheading electricity programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

Say you're walking past a shallow pond and see a child drowning. Would you try to rescue the child?

Joel Charny has been a humanitarian aid worker for 40 years — but one of the first valuable lessons he learned about the job was as a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1970s.

At 21, he was assigned to work as a sixth grade English teacher in a remote part of the Central African Republic. The students didn't have textbooks. Some kids had to walk 5 miles to school and back. And many did their homework under a streetlamp because there was no electricity at home.

When Sedjro Ahouansou was a kid growing up in the West African country of Benin, he loved eating a traditional dish called piron, a starchy accompaniment made of cassava flour that's served with meat and savory foods.

Now a chef, Ahouansou serves the dish at his restaurant Chill N Grill in Cotonou, Benin's largest city – only he's reinvented it as a Japanese-style dessert. He adds fluffy white coconut flakes to the piron, shapes it like a maki roll and fills it with warm fried pineapple.

Last summer, Becca Morrison, 21, was all set to volunteer at a community arts nonprofit in Zomba, Malawi. She'd work with the marketing team as a copywriter and social media manager.

Then the pandemic hit, and the trip got canceled. "I was peeved," she says. "I was so excited to travel. I had the whole thing planned."

What kind of world will Gen Z live in 20 years from now?

That's one of the questions that Charles Kenny aims to answer in a new book targeted to 12-15 year olds in Your World, Better: Global Progress and What You Can Do About It, published this spring.

Yande Banda, 17, and Selin Ozunaldim, 18, don't want to be the world's token youth activists.

But that's how they felt at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris last week.

In the middle of a pandemic, Mavis Owureku-Asare is optimistic.

The reason? On February 24, her homeland, Ghana, became the first low-resource country to receive free COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX.

"I feel very hopeful," says Owureku-Asare, a food scientist with the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission and a 2020 Aspen New Voices fellow. "Ghana has become a role model for other countries."

It's been a couple of years, but I can't get this viral tweet out of my mind. It was from 2019, and it asked: "Women, what is the dumbest thing a man ever said to you about ... menstruation, etc.?"

I remember laughing so hard at the thousands of replies:

"My husband thought I had to take a tampon out to pee."

Everybody knows that the pandemic has had a chilling impact on people's daily lives.

But how bad is it? And in particular, how are people faring in countries that aren't as well-off as, say, the United States or European nations?

A study published in February in the journal Science Advances aims to provide some answers.

The pandemic has been tough for Eric Dossekpli. The 49-year-old farmer from Anfoin Avele, a town in the west African country of Togo, had trouble selling his peanuts, black-eyed peas, maize and cassava at the market. Customers couldn't buy much because of their own pandemic income loss. Then he couldn't afford fertilizer to keep growing his crops.

"I didn't know how I was going to buy food, to buy what's needed at home," he says. And with four of his six children in school, he needed to pay for their tuition.

Open up any social media app on your phone and you'll likely see links to COVID-19 information from trustworthy sources.

Pinned to the top of Instagram's search function, the handles of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization are prominently featured. Click and you'll find posts and stories how to keep safe during the pandemic.

It seemed like there was only one global health story this year: the pandemic.

But that wasn't the only topic that grabbed our audience's attention. According to NPR's data on page views, readers were attracted to all kinds of Goats and Soda stories in 2020.

The mix of content might surprise you. A 2019 story about how to teach kids to control their anger made a huge comeback. Readers loved our commentary on the Netflix reality show Indian Matchmaking — and an explainer on locusts. And photos of our beautiful planet made a big impression.

It was a big year for comics journalism at NPR.

During the coronavirus crisis, our team has created and published original comics to offer COVID-19 advice and information and to tell stories about people whose lives have been affected by the pandemic.

One of the most popular was a printable zine targeted to children with tips on how to explain it all to them. It was translated into many languages, from Chinese to Spanish to Arabic.

Kids, this comic is for you.

You've been living through this pandemic for months, and you might be feeling sad, frustrated or upset. But there are lots of different ways to deal with your worries – and make yourself feel better. Here are some tips and advice to help you through.

Print and fold a zine version of this comic here. Here are directions on how to fold it.

This comic was originally published on Feb. 28, 2020, and has been updated.

Kids, this comic is just for you.

The coronavirus pandemic started in March and in many countries, thousands and thousands of people are getting sick. You may have questions about what exactly this virus is — and how to stay safe. Here are some answers.

The pandemic has had a chilling effect on freedom around the globe, according to a new report from Freedom House, a nonpartisan group that advocates for democracy and whose founders include Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie.

Want a reminder of how gorgeous our world is — you know, back before all we were thinking about was COVID-19 and lockdowns and vaccine trials?

Take a look at the winning entries of this year's Siena International Photo Awards, an annual contest organized by a group of photographers and enthusiasts from Siena, Italy, that aims to showcase images of beauty, culture and nature across the globe.

It's a bit hard to describe Vietnam's Intergenerational Self Help Clubs.

But one thing is easy to say. If you're older — like above the age of 60 — and need help, the club will help you get it. That could mean a microloan if times are tough, a drum lesson as a chance for self-expression and social activity (and to prove that old people can play drums, too). And during the pandemic, the clubs have played a critical role informing and supporting its members.

There are around 3,000 of the clubs in Vietnam, with 160,000 participants, most of them older people.

After I shared my family's experience in trying to care for my 92-year-old grandmother in the pandemic, I wanted to know: How do we help older people feel safe and comfortable — and happy — in these times?

During this pandemic, I've been worried about my grandma — Nanay, to me. That's Tagalog for mother.

Her name is Felisa Mercene. She's a Filipino American immigrant. She's 92. Since March, she's been living in isolation from most of our family in Southern California. Her relatives have been wary of visiting. What if they had COVID-19 and infected her?

3,000 miles away in Washington, D.C., where I live, I wondered: Is she feeling safe? Is she happy? Or ... is she lonely?

Updated Saturday at 4:50 a.m. ET

Last week, we asked our audience: If you were Beyoncé, what kind of Africa would you portray in Black Is King?

In early May, about two months after schools across Malawi closed because of COVID-19, Eliza Chikoti received a phone call from a former student: a bright 15-year-old girl who always got good grades.

"She called me and she said, 'Madame, I'm thinking of getting married,' " says Chikoti.

Chikoti, 24, works for Camfed, an international organization that supports girls' education. Part of her work is mentoring girls in the town of Mwanza — offering them support and guidance in their studies.

Jumping through the air, floating in the wind, a firework shooting off — these scenes evoke a sense of freedom that so many of us staying home due to the pandemic haven't felt in a long time.

But we can feel them vicariously in some of the winning entries of this year's iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS). The 13th annual competition invites photographers worldwide to submit unaltered iPhone or iPad photos to one of 18 categories.

A few months ago, we guided you through the simple steps of making a zine to document your quarantine experience ... a #quaranzine.

We asked you to share your creations with us using the hashtag #NPRLifeKit and #Quaranzine.

As different areas of the country reopen or reenter lockdown, these zines continue to speak to the lessons learned in an unprecedented season and the power of taking a few minutes to reflect and make something with your hands

"I will kill you."

That's what a family member of a COVID-19 patient told a general practitioner at a private hospital in Aden, Yemen, amid the country's coronavirus outbreak in April.

Pointing a gun at the doctor, the family member pushed him to put the patient on oxygen and mechanical ventilation, two types of treatments for severe cases of COVID-19.

The doctor explained that he wouldn't be able to provide those options for the patient.

The world is being flooded with new terms in coverage of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Here's a glossary in case you're not up on the latest medical and testing jargon. We start with the nomenclature of the virus. Words are listed in thematic groupings (transmission and testing, for example).

There are 27 members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Only two are women: Dr. Deborah Birx and Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Check the hashtag #quaranzine on social media and you'll see thousands of mini books — called zines — that people are making to document their lives in the pandemic.

Read the comic to find out how you can make one yourself — including how to fold your zine and what to write about. All you'll need is a sheet of paper, a pen, 30 minutes and a little creativity.

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