Thursday, December 1, 2016

Temple Emanuel’s Global Mitzvah Shabbat Highlights Gabriel Project Mumbai

The following blog was contributed by Temple Emnual, Kensington Maryland on the participation of Gabe Davidson (GPM-Entwine fellow Summer 2014) participation in their recent Global Mitzvah Shabbat:

The Global Mitzvah Shabbat Service on November 18, 2016 at Temple Emanuel, Kensington, Maryland featured  Gabe Davidson who received a Jewish Studies fellowship to serve in the Gabriel Project Mumbai during the summer of 2014. Gabe is currently an elementary school teacher and masters candidate in Baltimore, Maryland.
Rabbi Warren Stone, Brina Saklad, Gabe Davidson, Sanders Davidson, Stan Fagen

To  the audience of more than 100,  Gabe provided a fascinating overview of  GPM,  explaining what the project seeks to accomplish, the population served, and the model for Jewish community involvement both from Mumbai area residents and students/fellows from around the world.  Gabe gave lively examples of his own role and responsibilities and shared the lifelong impact of GPM on his own perspective.  In particular, he expressed his deep belief in Tikkun Olam and the Torah’s moral imperative that although no one person, organization or project can repair all that is needed, one cannot desist from trying. Gabe ended his inspiring talk by informing the congregation and students who to contact to follow in his footsteps or connect personally to GPM.
In front of a GPM poster board


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Meet Gabriel Project Mumbai’s new Entwine Fall 2016 fellows

Leore, Alec, Coby and Rachel have finished their orientation and educational training in Mumbai and tomorrow they start providing literacy and nutrition support to children in the slums of Mumbai. We wish them good luck:

Rachel Skolnick

Rachel is an energetic and passionate Philadelphia native, who has spent the last 7 years living and working in Washington, DC. Always fascinated by people and how they connect, Rachel graduated Lehiqh University with a degree is Psychology. During her time there, Rachel spent a semester in Rome, where she was able to explore and be immersed in the local culture, and of course fell in love with the food.
Social Impact has been at the core of Rachel’s professional career, which has led her to marketing roles at mission driven organizations from the nonprofit world to the startup world. Rachel is passionate about the way digital technology can connect us, and has continued to gain expertise in the latest trends by completing a Digital Marketing Certificate from Georgetown University. In 2015, Rachel was named by General Assembly as one of their Women on the Rise, for her passion for social innovation and leadership as a woman in the technology sector. A lover of travel and adventure, Rachel has visited over 15 countries, most recently climbing Machu Picchu in August 2016.

Coby Palivathukal

Coby Palivathukal is a rising junior studying philosophy at Stanford University. He was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona to two Jewish parents, and Judaism has and continues to play a large role in his life. Even though he attended a Catholic high school, Brophy College Preparatory, he founded a Jewish Student Union, a club that met every week in order to foster a community for Jewish students in an otherwise non-Jewish environment. He is additionally passionate about education and has served in a teaching role for children as an English tutor, a swim coach, and a camp counselor. He is currently working at Stanford Sierra Camp, a camp for Stanford alumni and their families both as a counselor for the 7 and 8 year olds and as a chef in the kitchen. His main hobby is competitive swimming, and he was honored as an All-American during high school and was awarded the Stanford club athlete of the year award this past year. His other hobbies include hiking, reading, writing, cooking, and spending time with friends.

Leore Lusana

Leore Lusana was born in Israel and moved to the United States at the age of six. She recently graduated from the University of Hartford with a dual degree in Elementary and Special Education. She is currently working at the Vanguard School, a school geared towards working with students with autism, behavioral, and emotional disturbances. She cares about people and has always wanted to be a part of something important where she can make a difference in the lives of children. Learning about other’s cultures and customs is an interest of hers and she hopes to be able to discover more throughout this journey.







Alec Leve

Alec Leve graduated from college with a degree in Environmental Studies and a GPA of 5.5. He has been the Waterfront Director at his childhood Jewish summer camp for the past two summers. He sees this experience as the thing that has contributed most to his personal and professional growth and his ability to lead. He loves spending his time in ways that improve his skill set. He loves to read, play chess and also guitar. He also loves playing sports except for golf. As a recent college graduate he is looking for an opportunity to do something that will make a positive impact on others as well as himself.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

GPM and Tzedek UK launch partnership to benefit vulnerable children in India

Gabriel Project Mumbai has joined forces with the UK organization Tzedek to promote the involvement of British Jewry in development work in India. Through this symbiotic partnership, the organizations hope to bolster Jewish volunteerism in the developing world, raise awareness about tikkun olam, and strengthen the Jewish presence among vulnerable children in the slums of Mumbai.

“I am so excited to work with the amazing people of Tzedek, who have such a strong vision of Jewish activism in the world,” says GPM founding director Jacob Sztokman.

Founded in 1990 as the British Jewish community’s response to extreme poverty, Tzedek educates the UK Jewish community through a uniquely Jewish lens, in schools, synagogues and youth movements; and inspire them to play an active part as volunteers, donors and fundraisers. The organization invests overseas resources a in local people who are working to help themselves out of poverty, and invests in locally conceived programmes that sustainably increase incomes, most often of women. Tzedek also invests in programmes that improve education and skills of children, as a way to break the cycle of poverty.

“Tzedek endeavours to increase the number of British Jews actively involved in overseas development, says Tdedek CEO Jude William. “Partnering with Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) gives many more Jews an opportunity to play an active part in effective poverty reduction work in India, and Mumbai slums specifically.  GPM is making great impact on the ground to help vulnerable children. They effectively use resources to bring great effect. In addition they offer a volunteer programme for international volunteers and local Jewish members of the Mumbai community. GPM story is compelling.

Founded in 2012, GPM cares for vulnerable children living in slums and poor rural areas of India by attending to the Triad of Children’s Well Being needs: education, health and nutrition. The GPM “Eat to Learn” provides daily hot, nutritious meals to 1500 children attending schools every day. GPM works with local NGO partners and women’s empowerment initiatives that have positive ripple effects in the slums, thus forging a powerful win-win model for advancing communal development.
GPM brings Jewish young adults from around the world to volunteer with vulnerable children, providing informal education and cultural tools to help them get ahead.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis and his wife Mrs. Valerie Mirvis visited GPM in January this year and were moved by the stories of the children and the dedication to improve people’s lives, undertaken by Jews.

“I was enormously moved by what the Gabriel Project Mumbai is doing in the slums in India, and its affect is enormous,”, Chief Rabbi Mirvis said. Rabbi Mirvis gave his blessing to the GPM-Tzedek partnership as a way to involve more British Jews in their global responsibility, " and specifically in this project in Mumbai."
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis at the launch of the GPM-Tzedek partnership

Chief Rabbi Mirvis and Valerie Mirvis visiting GPM in the slums of Mumbai (Jan 2016)

Tori Kahn, a 2013 GPM volunteer from London, recently described her experience with the children. “My experience has stayed with me more than I ever thought it would,” she said. “I'm not sure if it's that deeper understanding I now have of the impact some human love and attention can have or the awareness of a culture so different to our own. But the impression GPM and India made on me has stuck.”

Tori was especially close with an 11-year old boy named Shravan, who died of an undiagnosed illness because he had no access to health care in the slum. Tori helped raise money to open the Shravan Medical Center a groundbreaking medical clinic for women and children in the Kalwa slum in Mumbai which GPM built in his memory in 2015. “Shavran’s passing shocked me, and hit me hard but also reinforced to me the importance of the work GPM does. The health clinic that GPM has set up in Shavran’s name aims to prevent other children suffering in the way he did,” Tori said. “If Shravan had access to this kind of health care he might still be with us.” The medical clinic serves a community of 200,000 people that until now had no access to health care.

“I hope my experience and continued involvement with the charity allows me to give a small thing back to a society which has given me so much,” Tori added.

Adit Goschalk who was involved in Tzedek's educators program and was working with GPM as a Pears – JDC fellow explains described expounded on her eight months with GPM. "Overall I was incredibly inspired,” she said. "I was inspired not only by the people and the communities that I met, but also by everything that GPM has been successful in achieving in these communities."

“GPM mirrors projects that Tzedek has supported over its lifetime of 25 years,” Ms. WIlliams said. “GPM offers another compelling way for British Jews to look and contribute; to needs outside of our community. Tzedek and GPM together can win more hearts and minds among the community.”

Both Gabriel Project Mumbai and Tzedek are members of OLAM that promotes volunteering, service learning, international development, and social justice advocacy.

To support the work of GPM and Tzedek in the Mumbai slums, you can send UK Gift Aid tax-exempt donations to Tzedek, Platinum House, Gabriel Mews, Crewys Road, London NW2 2GD

Israeli army graduates volunteering with GPM in the slums

Twenty six  Israeli army graduates from elite units have  come to Mumbai to do social work projects including volunteering at Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) in the slums. The group, Fighters for Life, taught self-defense, hygiene, first aid, dance, art, environment awareness and English to children attending Gabriel Project Mumbai classes in the slums of Mumbai. The group also worked in painting a community center and teach classes to students in the Santa Cruz neighborhood of Mumbai .
"The children at Gabriel Project Mumbai classes in the slums really enjoyed the informal education classes provided by the Israeli group, " said Leya Elias, Program Coordinator of GPM. " We coordinated the topics being taught by the Israeli group and they came with a lot of the passion and enthusiasm and the children were highly engaged."

This is the second year that fighters for Life volunteered in the slums with Gabriel Project Mumbai, explained Jacob Sztokman, founding director of GPM, "we see a great value in communities coming together to support the welfare of vulnerable children. The Israeli team learned about the challenges faced by underserved communities and the children benefited from exposure to highly innovative pedagogic informal education classes!"




Sunday, September 18, 2016

GPM opens new English-language preschool in remote rural village of Ashte

GPM opened the first preschool serving the children of the remote rural village of Ashte in the Palghar district of Maharashtra this week. The preschool, which has 56 students for its first cohort, marks the first time that this village of 850 people has access to a preschool.

“The Ashte village leaders approached us earlier this year and asked us to provide a preschool for them,” explains GPM Director Jacob Sztokman. “They saw what amazing things we accomplished in our first year of Love 2 Learn, the schooling network that we established for the villages in the

Dahanu region, and they wanted us to include them, too. So we responded with a resounding ‘Yes’.”

Click image above for video!
GPM opened the Love 2 Learn primary-school network in 2015, initially with 20 classes, one in each of 20 remote, impoverished and underserved villages in the region. The residents of Ashte, which is one of the most remote villages – several hours’ drive from the nearest city – also asked if the school could be in English rather than the state language of Maharati or even their tribal dialect. The villager residents, who are primarily land owner farmers and landless members of the Konkana tribe, wanted to ensure that their children receive the finest education possible, on par with schools in Mumbai and Delhi.

“It is incredible that this is their aspiration,” Mr. Sztokman added. “Education is so hard to come by at all in this area, but they are not satisfied with basic education. They want English literacy, they want high quality, they want to have equal opportunities for their children. And they have entrusted GPM network.”

Village residents not only took the initiative of bringing GPM’s Love 2 Learn to their village. They also secured a suitable structure for the classroom, which they painted and landscaped with flora that they know their children would love. A tailor from the village also offered to make uniforms for all the children. 

GPM hired a local teacher, Ms. Anjana Thorat, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from an Indian university. Due to the lack of educational facilities in the region, Ms. Thorat had been unable to work in her field as the Ashte village is remote and opportunities rare. Now, with the opening of the pre-school, she is able to remain in her community while working in her field. And the children, in turn, benefit from having a highly qualified professional from their own tribe. It is a win-win model for the school and for the community, and keeps the talent local.

Ms. Thorat will be aided by assistant teacher Ms. Geeta Dhangda, also a community member,  who studied commerce in English at a local college.

The teachers’ desk was painted in the style of the famous Warli tribal art by a local artist, Mr Ramesh Mirka. The desk, along with all the other furniture, was donated by ORT India, a Jewish educational and training organization that supports non-sectarian economic and social development.

The opening ceremony for the school, which took place this week, was attended by parents, children, GPM staff, and local dignitaries. The district doctor, Dr. Pravin Rathod, was honored as “Chief Guest”, and ceremoniously opened the preschool. The opening ceremony began with the official breaking of the coconut, an Indian custom for good luck, by Mr Devram Jadhav a village elder.   Raju Chaudrri , representing the parents spoke at the ceremony as well as: Mr. Pravin Gawli, - member of the Dahnu local govt committee (Panchayat), Mrs Tara Sathe- Sarpanch of the local govt of 3 village group, Mrs Deepa Jadhav- Deputy Sarpanch of 3 village groups, Mr. Sakharam Jadhav- Forest officer, Mr. Bhanya Jadhav- Police officer of Ashte village and Mr. Vijay Jadhav of the Adivasi Forest department.


“It’s a great privilege at Gabriel Project Mumbai to run the Ashte English preschool,” said GPM Program Director Kenneth DSouza at the ceremony. “Our goal is to provide high-quality English education to your children to give them the tools and knowledge for them to excel throughout their schooling."

"We will strive for the best pedagogic curriculum so that your children will have the same level of English education as children in schools in Mumbai in Delhi. We are excited to work together in this endeavor, and thank you for your trust", said Thaiza Dias, Program Manager of the Love2Learn program  at GPM.

After the ceremony, the teacher and assistant teacher sat with GPM teaching staff for their first
training before classes begin tomorrow.

The Ashte English Preschool is sponsored by the Global Mitzvah Project of Temple Emanual, Kensington, Maryland

Thursday, September 15, 2016

GPM volunteer alum, Emily Weinstein, and the making of the GPM film

The video highlighting Gabriel Project Mumbai's development work in the slums of Mumbai was
created by GPM – Entwine alum, Emily Weinstein. Emily volunteered with GPM as a JDC Entwine fellow in the Spring of 2015 and taught informal education and English in classes in the Kalwa slums after graduating from Fordham University in New York. At Fordham Emily studied anthropology, international development and visual arts.

After traveling India for a month after the GPM-Entwine program, Emily returned  to the US but travelled to Mumbai  to work with GPM as Development Coordinator in August 2015 as she felt a connection to Mumbai and the strong impact of the work she was doing with GPM.

Emily's passion of film and photography and her love of India led her to work on a
View the GPM Video by clicking the image above
Bollywood/South Indian film in Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. Later she returned to Mumbai to work with cinematographer Harshbir Singh and then began working as a director's assistant at a Bollywood production firm.

Recently, feeling the need to get back to social causes, Emily and Harshbir decided to form a company focusing on human interest documentaries and social narrative films and  they started a business together - Bombay Arthouse. After finishing the GPM clip Emily said, "we are looking forward to pursuing many more projects with GPM, and we are so thrilled by the overwhelming positive response the film has been receiving."

The GPM film was made possible by an anonymous donor and by an OLAM 'In Motion Subsidy' to help promote OLAM coalition partners' development work around the world.
Emily during the filming

Harshbir on site of the filming


Thursday, August 18, 2016

One year anniversary of the Shravan Health Center in the slums of Mumbai

Gabriel Project Mumbai celebrated the one year anniversary of the Shravan Health Center in the Bhaskar Nagar slums. This was a very emotional and significant milestone for the clinic that caters to a population of 200,000 people in the slum.
Dr Alfred, Dr Kamran (DFY), Kenneth Dsouza
and Anju Mishra

The guest speaker at the anniversary celebrations was the Founder and Managing Director of Bethany Hospital, Dr. Stephen Alfred. His blessings for continued success of the Shravan Health Center were heartwarming. Elijah Jacob and staff from JDC India were also present as well as doctors and nursing staff of Doctors For You. But the greatest part of the occasion were the women, men and children of the neighborhood who came to celebrate THEIR community health center!

At the event GPM's latest health initiative was launched – malnutrition treatment program for babies diagnosed with acute malnutrition. See more HERE
Listening to a nutrition lecture for parents


The event also recognized the following accomplishments of the clinic over the year:
A medical survey and community health map of over 7000 families in the slums
A medical outreach program for bedridden and incapacitated individuals in the slums
The treatment of 12,000 individuals over the year
The implementation of night hours for working parents to bring their children
Subsidized onsite pharmacy (including free medicines)
Vaccination services in partnership with municipal authorities
Recognition as the only TB DOTS treatment center for cases of tuberculosis
Nutrition program for malnourished children


Thanks to all our supporters for making the Shravan Health Center such an important life-saving initiative for this underserved community.

To help support the Shravan Health Center, please donate HERE or contact us at GPM – info@gabrielprojectmumbai.org




Containers of 'Hyderabad Mix' high protien/vitamin nutrition
supplement

Celebrating 1 year: Shravan Health Center

Enterance to the Shravan Health Center

Kids at the event

Outside the Shravan Health Center



Launching Naya Women’s Paper Recycling Business in Mumbai slums

We are thrilled to launch a new women’s empowerment program that is not only sustainable but also good for the environment.
Ribbon cutting  at the launch of Naya 

Naya is a new innovative, grassroots paper recycling initiative aimed at empowering women to improve their community environment in the Mumbai slum of Kalwa. Naya, which means “new” in Hindi and which is run and implemented by women in the slums under GPM supervision, takes waste paper and turns it into paper products such as notepads, printing paper, coasters. The women employed in the initiative are locally trained in recycling waste paper and creating beautiful new pieces using imagination and skill.

Sales of these products will support the initiative, as well as develop facilities and awareness around waste and recycling within the slum. The recycled-paper products are sold to local offices, hotels and businesses.

The project, launched on 10 August 2016,  supports the community, cleans up the area, and promotes eco-friendly business. It is a sustainable social enterprise, empowering local women who also become ambassadors for recycling and cleanliness in the slum, improving the lives of the 200,000 people currently living in Kalwa.
The program was developed by Pears-JDC fellow Adit Goshalk from the UK.
Outside the Naya workshop in
Bhaskar Nagar, Kalwa slum

Adit, 29, joined GPM as a Pears sponsored JDC fellow for the year and worked half of the time with JDC and half of the time with GPM. Her passions are Art and development work, and she is an artist and art teacher in a Jewish school the UK. She has held many education related positions in development including a previous stint in Jaipur India and programs at Tzedek UK.

After months of speaking with people in the local community and working with GPM-JDC Entwine volunteers in the slums as part of her fellowship, she has combined these two passions of art and development to create the unique Naya program. The program takes two major challenges – women’s empowerment and environment – and combines them with a huge dollop of creativity. Scraps of paper are converted by women to develop useable products for sale to local businesses. The business has th potential to be self-sustaining and scalable, a fantastic model of socially—conscious business.

"My experiences this year in India and my work with the children and adults in the UK have shown me the powerful potential that the arts can have to make positive change", said Adit. "The Naya initiative brings together creativity and development, making something new and beautiful from what was once waste while empowering women to improve their lives and those within their community. I am thrilled to see the impact that we have had already and I cannot wait to continue this progress!"

GPM received initial funding from Paperback (a London-based, recycled paper supplier) to start the
At the Naya launch, 10 August 2016 with GPM staff,
representatives of  JDC India and Naya employees
project and has already received three small orders for products from a hotel and local businesses.
However, we need your help to get Naya fully sustainable by the end of 2018.

The program costs only about $450/month [Total: $8,500]
Please help support Naya by donating here: https://www.rootfunding.com/campaign/naya-paper-recycling




Recycled paper drying

Treating waste paper and creating quality recycled paper

Sign outside Naya's new workshop

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

GPM’s new JDC Entwine Summer 2016 fellows, now volunteering in the slums of Mumbai!

This GPM cohort is unique in that all 7 of the volunteers hail from the East Coast of the United States. Aliza, Ari, Andrew, Rachel, Tamara, Aryeh and Leora will spend two months providing literacy and nutrition support to children in the slums of Mumbai.

Here is a glimpse into the participants of the current GPM-JDC Entwine volunteer session:

Leora Huebner
Leora Huebner
Leora Huebner just finished her freshman year at Princeton. She is from Manhattan and went to Ramaz High School. She loves to play piano and sing, and sings in (and manages) Koleinu, Princeton's only Jewish acapella group. Though she has not yet declared her major, Leora will probably major in computer science. She also loves traveling and working with other people.



Rachel Markowitz

Rachel Markowitz
This year Rachel is abroad studying Judaism and Zionism in Jerusalem. Her studies have further opened her heart and committed her to the Jewish idea of Tikkun Olam- being responsible for those around you and making the world a better place. In one word, Rachel can best be described as an
optimist. Her view on the world is that everything has the potential to be changed for the better and improved from its current state. Rachel spent her summer volunteering in a children’s home in Israel and in a day camp for children with special needs. Throughout the year she volunteered in a hospital visiting the sick in her free time.

Ari Marder

Ari Marder
Ari Marder is a senior at Yeshiva University studying psychology with a minor in business. Upon graduation he plans to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector, where he hopes to utilize his creativity and energy to help positively impact those in need. In his extracurricular life Ari spends much of his time volunteering inside and outside the Jewish community venturing to gain a fuller understanding of the struggles of others and how to best address their needs. His other interests include intramural basketball, ukulele (he is average at best) and acting in the Yeshiva College Dramatics Society (he played the lead role in “A Few Good Men”).


Lisa Peyser
Lisa Peyser

Lisa realized that she wanted to be a teacher the first time she stood in front of a class of children as an intern at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The responsibility of saying something to a group of eager, curious and impressionable children was humbling and unbelievable. After graduating from Barnard College. Lisa trained to be a teacher at the Bank Street School for Children, receiving a degree in Middle School Special and General Education. She worked in the middle school at Yeshivat Noam in New Jersey teaching both English and History. In July of 2014, Lisa became a founding teacher at The Shefa School, a school for children with language based learning disabilities. Lisa strives to create a classroom environment where students are active partners in their learning. The creative process of creating curriculum and projects which can meet the needs of all types of learners is one of Lisa’s favorite parts of this career. Lisa spends her summers in Israel and recently spent the summer teaching Israeli children English reading and creative writing.

Andrew Hirsh

Andrew Hirsh
Andrew is a student at Wesleyan University pursuing a major in History with certificates in International Relations and Social, Cultural, Critical Theory. Andrew speaks German fluently having studied German language and culture for the past two years. Andrew is involved with the Wesleyan Refugee Project where he assists refugees that seek to repatriate to the United States and he is an Eco Facilitator on campus in which he help improve environmental consciousness and sustainable development at Wesleyan. Andrew also volunteers with Eye-to-Eye, a Non-Profit created to help children learn to cope with learning disabilities.

Tamara Teplow 

Tamara Teplow
Tamara Teplow graduated from Ma'ayanot Yeshiva High School in June, 2016 and will attend Stern College in the fall. This year she is studying at Midreshet Harova, a seminary in the old city of Jerusalem. Tamara has a long history of working with children. She was a head counselor at FluteStars day camp at the JCC of Tenafly for two consecutive years in which she worked with children on an individual basis as well as leading group classes, teaching music theory and flute technique. Tamara is a fashion blogger who publishes weekly blogs that highlight her artistic fashion shoots. She dresses the models, organizes the shoots, and photographs the models. Last year she organized a fashion show at her local mall in response to the earthquake in Nepal, raising over 10 thousand dollars for the cause.

Aryeh Gold

Aryeh Gold
Aryeh Gold is completing Queens College with a major in neuroscience. He has always been passionate about providing direct care to those in need. When he was 16, he became a certified EMT and spent the next five years volunteering on an ambulance corp. Aryeh previously worked as a counselor for children with special needs in Camp HASC, and then decided to spend his weekends working in a group home for adults with special needs. Aryeh enjoys forming real connections with people from different backgrounds and abilities, and tries to make an impact whenever he can.