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.

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.

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.

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