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In June, M., a 28-year-old woman jumped from the second floor of her home in Madurai, India — 20 feet above a rocky, tar road — after a bitter argument with her husband. He had accused her of having an affair.

It may not sound like a hot ticket, but on a balmy Saturday night at the United Nations earlier this month, a throng of smartly dressed millennials from around the world piled into the elegant, tiered rows of the United Nations Economic and Social Council chamber.

They had come to see who would win the $1 million dollar Hult Prize, a winner-take-all award that would go to just one team among six who had spent the previous nine months putting together environmentally-friendly business projects aimed at doing good in the world.

For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that a controversial new kind of genetic engineering can rapidly spread a self-destructive genetic modification through a complex species.

The empty field behind Mahlodumela primary school in Chebeng village doesn't look like much. It's an anonymous stretch of scrubby grass, punctuated by a lonely metal goal post.

But what happened in this field in 2014 sparked a debate in South Africa that is still simmering today. That January, Michael Komape, a 5-year-old student who had just started school three days earlier, wandered out to the field to use the school toilet.

New Book: Vaccines Have Always Had Haters

Sep 23, 2018

Vaccinations have saved millions, maybe billions, of lives, says Michael Kinch, associate vice chancellor and director of the Center for Research Innovation in Business at Washington University in St. Louis. Those routine shots every child is expected to get can fill parents with hope that they're protecting their children from serious diseases.

But vaccines also inspire fear that something could go terribly wrong. That's why Kinch's new book is aptly named: Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity.

Rejection By The King Of Nepal Was Not The End Of The Road

Sep 21, 2018

Kul Chandra Gautam was born in a rural village with no electricity or running water, no doctors and schools. The nearest town with a market was a five-day walk away.

He left home at age 7 to study — and study he did. He was one of the first people in the world to learn English from a Peace Corps volunteer, and his outstanding grades eventually won him a full scholarship to Dartmouth.

But getting there wasn't easy.

Let's figure out how to end hunger forever. And do it fast.

That's the lofty goal of the World Food Programme's Innovation Accelerator, a 2-year-old venture inspired by the startup scene. It's gathering an arsenal of ideas to fight hunger — both by brainstorming internally and supporting outside entrepreneurs — to test out in the real world as quickly as possible.

The United States' commitment to global development does not look good compared with that of other wealthy countries — and it's likely to get worse.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2017 and has been republished with updates.

For Rosh Hashana, more than 350 members of Uganda's Namutumba Synagogue dressed in white, chanted their prayers and feasted on a slaughtered cow to mark the beginning of a new Jewish year last week.

"We are so happy that we entered the new year with such joy and happiness," said Namutumba's spiritual leader Shadrach Mugoya Levi by telephone from Uganda.

Two years ago, Shivam Sharma rushed to a Mumbai hospital at 2:30 a.m. He'd had sex earlier that night with a man who was HIV positive. They'd used protection, but Sharma just wanted to be sure he was safe.

So he went straight to the emergency room and asked a junior doctor for a preventative dose of antiretroviral medicines, or PEP — post-exposure prophylaxis.

Hospital staff "were absolutely clueless," Sharma, 28, recalls. No one had ever asked for a PEP before, staff told him.

Editor's note: Given the subject this story explores, the discussion includes some explicit language.

Two sisters from a remote pastoral village in Puntland State, Somalia, died on Sept. 11 of complications from a female genital mutilation (FGM) procedure.

An "inexperienced self-proclaimed traditional circumciser" performed the procedure the day before, according to Dr. Mohamed Hussein Aden, director of the University Teaching Hospital in Galkayo, Somalia, who sent an email with his comments to NPR.

It was the summer of 2013 and Daniel Handel had just moved to Rwanda. He was unpacking boxes in his new house, when his wife walked over with her laptop and said, 'You have to listen to this radio story!' The piece she played him was by NPR's Planet Money team, and it profiled a charity that was testing a bold idea: Instead of giving people in poor countries, say, livestock or job training to help improve their standard of living, why not just give them cash and let them decide how best to spend it?

Secrets Of Success From A 102-Year-Old Runner

Sep 14, 2018

Editor's note: This story was originally published in January and has been republished with updates on Man Kaur's running achievements.

At 102, Man Kaur is still running — and winning gold medals.

The phenomenon from India just nailed the gold medal in the 200-meter race for the 100-to-104 age group at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga, Spain. She finished in 3 minutes and 14 seconds.

Then again, she was the only competitor in that age bracket.

She also picked up a gold medal in the javelin competition.

Farmer Gao Yongfei is paying much closer attention to his more than 5,000 pigs than ever before.

That's because hundreds of pigs at farms nearby are dying from a mysterious virus, and Gao and his staff are now vigilantly checking his herd for symptoms of African swine fever.

"You know the pig is sick if its mouth has turned dark and it's acting crazy," says the 64-year-old owner of Yongfei Livestock Farm. "When you find a pig that has the fever, you need to slaughter it immediately."

On the Atrai River in the northwest of Bangladesh, a small beige boat is tied up in tall grass that lines the riverbank.

The interior of the boat is packed with narrow benches which in turn are jammed with children.

There are 29 students in this third-grade class and it would be hard to fit any more into the narrow vessel. The kids sit shoulder-to-shoulder facing a blackboard at the back of the boat.

When the teacher asks for a volunteer to recite a multiplication table, 8-year-old Nila Khatun's hand shoots straight toward the unpainted ceiling.

It's one of the most basic humanitarian goals — make sure no one goes hungry. And for decades the world has been making steady progress to ensure not only that people don't starve but that children have enough nutrients to grow and thrive.

But since the year 2014 global progress against hunger hasn't just stalled. The war against hunger is in fact moving in the wrong direction.

Guillermo does not exist — on social media at least. He has a Facebook account, but he doesn't publicly use his real name. He doesn't have a profile picture, doesn't show his location, and never posts a single thing. He mostly logs in to read about sports.

Guillermo asked that his last name be withheld — he worries about his family. They still live in Venezuela. Amid political and economic chaos, over a million Venezuelans have left the country in the last two years.

Around the world, people are struggling for access to drinking water. All Things Considered is examining the forces at play in separating the haves from the have-nots — from natural disasters to crumbling infrastructure and corruption.

In Korangi, a slum neighborhood of Karachi, a sprawling port city of some 16 million people in Pakistan, there's no running water.

So how do people get the water they need to drink, to cook, to wash up and to clean their homes?

The Sahara desert is expanding, and has been for at least a century. It's a phenomenon that seems impossible to stop.

But it hasn't stopped at least one group of scientists from dreaming of a way to do it. And their proposed solution, a grand scheme that involves covering vast areas of desert with solar panels and windmills, just got published in the prestigious journal Science.

When you go through airport security, you might wish you had a pair of gloves on like the TSA agents do.

Researchers have evidence that the plastic trays in security lines are a haven for respiratory viruses. The trays likely harbor more of these pathogens than the flushing button on the airport toilets, researchers reported last week in BMC Infectious Diseases.

Eww.

Fully half the world's students aged 13 to 15, or 150 million teens, reported that they'd been bullied in the past month or been in a physical fight in the past year, according to a new report from UNICEF. In addition, half of all children live in countries that allow some forms of corporal punishment in school, putting 720 million kids at risk of violence from their teachers.

What Kills 5 Million People A Year? It's Not Just Disease

Sep 5, 2018

In the global health world, giving people access to health care — even if they're just basic services — has long been a top priority.

But what if that approach is wrong?

A new report published in The Lancet on Wednesday finds that when it comes to health, quality — not quantity — seems to be more important.

In July 2017, I wrote a story about two young Nigerians who quit their office jobs to start an informal school for kids in a camp for displaced people in Abuja, the country's capital. How's the project going?

In the tribal region of Pakistan where Khalida Brohi grew up, girls didn't typically go to school. Instead, some were forced into marriage at a very young age — and punished by death if they don't act according to plan.

That's what happened to Brohi's 14-year-old cousin, Khadija. Khadija's family had arranged a marriage for her, but Khadija fell in love with someone else and ran away. Then, Brohi says, "Three men arrived and they took her ... to a place where her grave was already dug and she was murdered by my uncle right there."

So I finally did it. I went and took a goat yoga class. As the editor of the Goats and Soda blog, I felt it was my duty.

Goat yoga is one of those things that sound like a joke. But it is very real.

The idea is pretty simple: A yoga teacher leads a class of humans while goats interact with the yogis.

Preferably the goats are kids because, really, you wouldn't want a 30-pound goat climbing on you. Or butting heads with you.

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?

When photographer Nico Therin came across pictures of wrestling matches on the sand in Senegal, he was so intrigued he decided to take his camera and go.

It didn't take long for Therin to learn that in Senegal, wrestling is a national sport. As Khadim Gadiaga, president of the Senegalese Wrestlers Association, puts it, "Every Senegalese — mothers and fathers, even the president of the republic — they love Senegalese wrestling."

If hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it.

But there it was, right in front of me: A preteen voluntarily doing chores around the house.

There was no fuss. No nagging or whining. And there were no visible rewards.

I was visiting Maya families in the Yucatan, reporting for NPR's special parenting series #HowToRaiseAHuman. While I was interviewing one mom her 12-year-old daughter went over to the dishes and started washing away — without being asked.

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 2017, we reported on the impact of the photo of the drowned boy on the beach, which stirred up public concern for the Syrian refugee crisis. A memoir by the boy's aunt details the family's struggles in Syria — and their fatal attempt to cross from Turkey to Greece in a rubber boat.

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