Michael Elliott poses with a group of children during a trip to Segou, Mali. One reason for his optimistic outlook is the dramatic drop in deaths of children under age 5. Courtesy of ONE hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of ONE

Dr. Stephen Teach helps Jeffery Ulmer listen to his daughter Alauna's asthmatic breathing at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Alauna's mother, Farisa, holds her. The District has one of the highest rates of pediatric asthma in the country. Jahi Chikwendiu/Washington Post hide caption

itoggle caption Jahi Chikwendiu/Washington Post

Ephraim Benton, a former resident of Tompkins Houses in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, is now an actor. Benton started a community-based organization called Beyond Influencing Da Hood, which puts on health fairs, film festivals and various free community events in his old housing project. This photo was taken in front of his old building in Tompkins Houses. Courtesy of Shino Yanagawa hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Shino Yanagawa

Keith Herie is swamped in debt from medical issues he and his wife encountered starting about a decade ago. Heartland hospital is seizing 10 percent of his paycheck and 25 percent of his wife's wages, and has placed a lien on their home. Steve Hebert for ProPublica hide caption

itoggle caption Steve Hebert for ProPublica

Seventeen-year-old Jairo Gomez lives in a one-bedroom apartment with eight other family members. His school attendance has suffered because he often has to stay home to babysit his younger siblings. Emily Kwong/WNYC hide caption

itoggle caption Emily Kwong/WNYC

Abortions are legal in India. But many are performed by traditional midwives, called dais. Sometimes a dai rubs herbs on a woman's stomach or gives her plants to eat. Poulomi Basu for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Poulomi Basu for NPR

Cara Russo of Gettysburg, Pa., here with 9-year-old Shayla, one of her two daughters, has found success in a program geared to help struggling families navigate past some of the day-to-day obstacles that keep many poor. Pam Fessler/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Pam Fessler/NPR

Students Dakota Gibson (left) and Gary Barber with school volunteer Kenny Thompson after their StoryCorps interview in Houston, Texas. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps

Darlena Cunha says that she wrote her essay about her family's temporary poverty so her twin daughters would learn not to judge people on government assistance. Courtesy of Darlena Cunha hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Darlena Cunha

Schoolgirls eat a free midday meal in Hyderabad, India, last month. India has offered such meals since the 1960s to persuade impoverished parents to send their children to school. A U.N. report released Tuesday finds modest progress in the worldwide fight against chronic hunger. Mahesh Kumar A./AP hide caption

itoggle caption Mahesh Kumar A./AP

Chandra Devi lost two of her children last week when they consumed a free school lunch in Gandaman village, India. They were among 23 children who died in the tragedy. Anoo Bhuyan/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Anoo Bhuyan/NPR

Outside the office of Utah Gov. Herbert Friday, Betsy Ogden lays paper chains on a pile symbolizing uninsured state residents who would be covered by a Medicaid expansion. Rick Bowmer/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Rick Bowmer/AP

After Superstorm Sandy, the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in Neptune, N.J., is filled with water bottles, canned food and other goods. But these supplies are going out almost as fast as they come in. Amy Walters/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Amy Walters/NPR

Somali girls line up to receive a hot meal in Mogadishu last year after the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in decades, compounded by war, put millions in danger of starvation. Roberto Schmmidt/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Roberto Schmmidt/AFP/Getty Images