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How 3 Rickshaws Won A Million Dollar Prize

Sep 20, 2017

On a stage at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, the young executives of six start-up companies made their final, feverish bids to win the coveted Hult Prize. Each had formed and launched business ideas over the last year that would try to solve this year's Hult Prize challenge – improving the well-being of at least one million refugees over the next five years.

A semitrailer pulls up, full of rice, water, clothes, medicine, biscuits.

Aid workers hand out the supplies to thousands of anxious, impatient and hungry refugees.

The scene is chaotic — and aid groups say that's how it has been for the past few weeks. Over 400,000 Rohingya refugees have fled government violence in Myanmar — where they are a Muslim minority — for Bangladesh. They are straining the capacity of aid agencies on the ground and of the Bangladesh government. And more refugees arrive each day.

The Problem With Free Menstrual Pads

Sep 18, 2017

Sanitary pads are expensive. And in some parts of the world, hard to come by. So why not give pads away for free?

We asked, and you answered.

In a recent series we explored a different way of giving aid to people in poor countries. Instead of handing out seeds or a cow or job training, what if you just gave people cash and let them decide how to use it?

Then we put the call out to you, our audience: Was there ever a time when you got a little cash with no strings attached and it made a huge difference? Or when you wished for a tiny windfall to tackle a problem?

Leprosy is an ancient disease, a biblical curse and, even in the 21st century, a cultural shame so severe that in some countries, patients are sent to live in isolated colonies or tossed out of their own homes.

"I met a woman whose husband and children forced her to live in the cow shed," says Gareth Shrubshole, programs and advocacy officer at the Leprosy Mission. "Her boys refused to share a meal with their own mother." That was in India.

Nearly 400,000 Rohingya people have fled government violence in Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh. The majority of them are children — 60 percent, by U.N. estimates. And at least 1,100 are separated from their parents.

The challenges for aid groups are unfathomable with a refugee crisis this large, caused by what Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, says seems to be "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

The situation is even more daunting when so many children are at risk.

Khadija Saddiqi is a soft-voiced, wispy woman. Her clothes and Muslim headscarf are rigorously modest. The only suggestion of her unusual boldness is the bodyguard who stands outside her home in Lahore.

The only evidence of why she might need a guard is the scar near Saddiqi's wrist.

As Saddiqi picked up her 7-year-old sister from school last year, a man lunged at her with a knife, stabbing her in her throat, arms, breasts and back.

"I thought it was the end of my life," says Saddiqi, 22. "I was full of blood."

She knew her attacker well.

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Future Consequences.

About Juan Enriquez's TED Talk

From genetically modified animals and crops, we can already manipulate DNA. But futurist Juan Enriquez argues soon we can take full control of human evolution to create a better life for all of us.

About Juan Enriquez

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.

There's at least one thing Bill Gates and President Trump agree on: The media don't always get things right.

For Gates, the problem is with the foreign aid coverage.

"The nature of news is mostly to cover big setbacks," Gates says. "So if a little bit of money was spent improperly, that's what gets the news coverage, even though 99 percent of it was spent well."

This focus on failure leads to false impressions about the effectiveness of foreign aid, says Gates.

Many readers of this blog told us they were inspired by the first story in our series on #nostringscash aid — about a ground-breaking experiment in Kenya to test the benefits of giving poor people a steady stream of cash in place of traditional aid.

But some questioned the ethics of studies like this.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The U.S. thought it wiped out hookworm decades ago. But a new study shows that it never truly went away.

Hookworm thrives in regions of extreme poverty with poor sanitation and affects some 740 million people worldwide. Developing nations with warm, moist climates, in regions like South America, South Asia and Southeast Asia, are most susceptible to the worm.

Dr. Tom Frieden, who led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2009 to 2017, has a brand-new job as head of a brand-new global health initiative called Resolve.

She was working with children who had cerebral palsy in Afghanistan. At around 10:15 Monday morning, she stepped outside of the ward to approach two patients in the orthopedic center. One of them, a man in a wheelchair, took out a gun and fatally wounded Lorena Enebral Perez. He had been a patient at the orthopedic center in Mazar-i-Sharif for 19 years, having first visited the center at age 2 to be treated for polio. She was a Spanish physiotherapist on her first mission with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Mongolia's Hunt For Female Street Artists

Sep 11, 2017

Odno Bold extends her hand in greeting, than pulls it away quickly. For a moment she has forgotten that her hands are covered in pink chalk and red paint, a hazard of the trade.

Bold, who is 24, is outlining her first street mural on the wall surrounding the United Nations compound in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Dressed in black leggings and boots, Bold and her artistic partner on the piece, Michid Enkhbat, 25, are the sole women working on the wall. Like in many other countries, men mostly do street art here.

"Women are not brave enough to do graffiti," says Bold.

Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET

Irma, once a powerful and longrunning hurricane, weakened to a tropical depression as it moved through Georgia on its way to Alabama. It continues to dump heavy rain but all surge warnings have been canceled.

Irma has left behind dangerous floodwaters, power outages for millions of people and the debris it has made of human possessions across Florida.

The huge storm remained a Category 1 hurricane through early Monday, before finally being downgraded to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first U.S. treatment for childhood cases of Chagas disease — a parasite-driven illness that, over time and unless treated early, can cause serious heart problems in about a third of the people it infects.

There are perhaps 300,000 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the illness is much more common in Latin America, where it affects millions.

How do you stop the world's worst cholera epidemic?

One way is to send volunteers door-to-door to tell people how they can avoid the disease and what to do if they suspect an infection.

That's what Faytha Ahmed Farj is doing. A 45-year-old mother of 9, Farj has never held a paying job but she's part of a nationwide campaign of volunteers fighting cholera.

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."

This past year China had the largest outbreak of a deadly bird flu since the virus was first detected in March 2013.

For the past five years, China has had annual waves of H7N9 outbreaks that peak around January and February.

During the 2017 season, the country reported nearly the same number of cases as all four previous years combined, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Thursday. The virus cropped up in more geographic regions. And it showed signs of evolving in ways that cause concern.

Romance films don't usually revolve around a toilet.

Last August we brought you the story of Lumbaram, a father in a village in Northern India who was on a quest to rescue his daughter Durga from a marriage that he had forced her into.

A few months after fleeing war in Syria for safety in Germany, Ahmad Chahabi was at Berlin's main bus station. As he waited for a friend, he saw a child get off a bus with her family. Suddenly, the girl dived to the ground, sobbing. When he looked up, Chahabi realized she had mistaken a passenger jet overhead for a bomber. "It's not enough to move from one place to another," Chahabi realized. "War follows you."

Three years ago, we published a story about a small start-up in Kigali, Rwanda's capital, that was seeking to make homes more sanitary by replacing dirt floors with sealed earthen floors, which are up to 80 percent cheaper than concrete.

When we first spoke to Khaled Khatib, he had just finished working on The White Helmets, a 41-minute Netflix documentary about a group of volunteer rescue workers who were helping those caught in the crossfire of Syria's bloody civil war.

The arrival of a new school year and cooler temperatures also means the arrival of flu vaccines in doctors' offices, pharmacies, clinics, work places, and school campuses. With flu season on its way, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued updated recommendations Monday for the flu vaccine — but without the needle-free option so many parents were hoping for.

Parents and pediatricians both may be dismayed to hear that the FluMist nasal vaccine is once again not recommended.

After signing up for Airbnb, Godwin Ndosi waited four months for his first guest. That was back in 2015. He went on to become a superhost, renting out his family's house in Arusha, Tanzania, for a bargain rate of $15 a night to tourists from around the world. Did he stick with it?

On Godwin Ndosi's Facebook page, photos from his adventures over the past year — his travels to Europe, wild animals from safari trips he's led to the Serengeti, selfies with tourists who's stayed at his home — fill his timeline.

In the past few years, there have been so many "superbugs" appearing in hospitals around the world that we here at Goats and Soda haven't had the time or resources to report on all of them.

But a new type of pneumonia emerging in China seems so important that we dropped what we were doing to write about it.

Doctors in Hangzhou in southeastern China have detected a a type of pneumonia that is both highly drug-resistant and very deadly. It also spreads easily.

Muhammad Taluli arrived from Gaza at Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center a few months ago and unwrapped the cloth from his hands to reveal gray and white growths that looked like tree bark. The doctors had never seen anything like it.

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