Nurith Aizenman

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?

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.

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.

Child marriage isn't just a practice that victimizes girls in poor countries. As this blog has previously reported, it's also long been an issue in the United States, involving girls from a wide range of backgrounds. Based on state marriage license data and other sources, advocacy groups and experts estimate that between 2000 and 2015 alone, well over 200,000 children — nearly all of them girls — were married. In nearly all cases the husband was an adult.

Mary Abagi is a 63-year-old widow who has spent most of her life eking out a living by growing crops on a tiny plot of land in her Kenyan village. Then, last fall, Abagi learned that the village had been picked for an unusual experiment that promised to change her life.

Young guys in dusty polo shirts. New moms holding their babies. Grandmas in bright head wraps. They've all gathered in a clearing for one of the village meetings when something remarkable happens. Practically every person's cellphone starts tinkling.

Advocates for ending child marriage are trying a new tactic: Show governments just how much the practice is hurting their own bottom line.

The Green Climate Fund has been thrust into the spotlight of late.

President Trump singled it out for scorn in his Rose Garden remarks last week announcing his decision to pull the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Along with that move, Trump noted, he is ending further U.S. contributions to the "so-called Green Climate Fund — nice name."

Wonder Woman is certainly basking in accolades these days.

The new movie starring Gal Gadot is being widely praised for finally giving the world a big-screen female superhero who — to quote just a few of the glowing reviews — is both "awesomely fierce" and "surprisingly funny," "sexually aware without being sexualized" and a refreshing throwback to the days of "uncomplicated role models ... fighting for peace and justice."

U.S. aid for international family planning would be eliminated.

Programs to combat HIV/AIDS in the world's poorest countries would be slashed by 17 percent.

Efforts to fight malaria would be chopped by 11 percent.

Those are just some of the cuts to global health spending called for by President Trump in the proposed budget he unveiled this week.

On one level the reductions did not come as a surprise. Trump had already made clear in his "skinny budget" proposal, released in March, that he wanted to lower spending on foreign assistance by more than a third.

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