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.

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