Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Heroes for Life visits GPM

It is a right of passage for young Israelis to take a long international trip after completing their IDF service. Often times, they find themselves backpacking through third world countries such as South America, India or Nepal. These young adults want to give back to the communities they visit, so they join Heroes for Life in order to make their post army experiences even more meaningful.

“Heroes for life” was created by Captain Gilli Cohen who had been listening to many of his soldiers discussing their plans for travel after the army. The soldiers expressed interest in doing something meaningful for a week or two while backpacking overseas – and he decided to take action. He met with people, formed a committee, and opened a Facebook group which quickly garnered over 4,000 members. Finally Gilli contacted GPM for assistance, as well as the Israeli Consulate in Mumbai, and all together they formulated a plan and launched their project. 

Geography lessons

Every year in August the former soldiers come to India for a service-oriented experience in a community center in central Mumbai. 

They also teach the children in the Kalwa slums in classes run by GPM. 

Everyday for two weeks, a group of around 15 volunteers come to the Joshua Greenberger Learning Center and teach the GPM children. The 2017 cohort taught the children lessons on science, geography, manners, and nutrition. The children could not get enough of these "heroes," and came to school excited everyday. 

Jacob Sztokman, founder of GPM is always excited when Heroes for Life comes to volunteer "We are very happy when the Heroes for Life come and share their knowledge and experiences with this children.  This is their third year with us. This specific service partnership is extremely important to us." 

Heroes For Life group picture with GPM staff 
GPM looks forward to more Heroes for Life groups to come work with us in the future.
Stay tuned for two upcoming blogs in Hebrew from Heroes for Life participants who taught in GPM classes!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Meet Hayley Dsouza, the GPM Educational Coordinator

From the moment you sit down with Hayley Dsouza, it is easy to understand why the GPM children adore her. She is kind, warm, and patient, and she is not afraid to act silly with the kids.

Hayley is the GPM Educational Coordinator in the Love2Learn classes in the Kalwa slums. She joined in February 2013, and has grown immensely in her role. Her job includes supervising the several classes in the Love2Learn educational network, monitor and liaise with teachers and integrate volunteer groups. She is the senior educator for the preschool classes.

Hayley says she learned a lot about a world she didn't know about before joining GPM, "I live one station away from the Kalwa slums, but I didn't know that the slums in Kalwa existed" Hayley explains, "GPM has taught me so much about what goes on in my own backyard. Today I am so proud to be a part of the GPM team. "
Hayley and her preschoolers 

The children love coming to the GPM classes. They are supported and loved by all the staff, "When I see the smiles of the children..they are just so happy to be there. Especially my nursery school class. They are little, but clearly excited to come into class. This does not feel like work to me, it just feels like I'm doing some good for my community."

Hayley lives in Mumbai with her husband Lloyd and daughter Faith, who she absolutely adores. 

A village doctor with a big heart

In the remote villages of Ashte, medical care is hard to come by. From a simple check up to vital medications, access to healthcare is always a challenge. An integral feature of the GPM Love2Learn education network running in 20 villages in the Palghar district north of Mumbai is providing quality healthcare alongside innovative classes and good nutrition.

Dr. Pravin Rathod provides a mobile healthcare service as part "Love2Learn, Dr. Rathod performs health check ups and monitors the health of the children in 20 remote tribal villages in the district where he lives. He trains GPM teachers in how to best take care of the children with their various ailments when the children come to school and how the teachers can work with parents to give further medical care to their children when necessary.

Nikkita Worlikar, GPM coordinator, sat down with Dr. Rathod to better understand his role in the villages. to the villages - making healthcare accessible to remote tribal communities.
Dr. Rathod in a GPM 'Love2Learn' village school
Dr. Rathod is from a small town called Nanded in Marathwada and also works in a senior position in the local primary health care clinic. He joined the GPM team because he understands the importance of bringing health care

"I think what GPM does is for a great cause! It works with the tribal people,  covering most of the necessary areas of development" Dr Rathod explained to Nikkita,'How could I not be a part of a GPM?  I am doing my bit for the society."

At first the children from remote villages were wary of the doctor and approached him with trepidation, however, they were fast to warm up to his great bed-side manner and he has created a wonderful rapport with the children, "It means a lot to me that when I first met the children they were all shy at first , but then eventually after 2-3 meetings they become comfortable around me and the healthcare I was providing .  Now, they are excited to see me as I am happy to see them!"
Dr. Rathod at the GPM Pre-School in the village of Ashte

GPM rural development work is greatly enhanced by the dedication and passion that Dr Rathod has instilled into the healthcare provided within the Love2Learn education network. "Great strides have been made in the overall health of hundreds of children," explains Samantha Klazkin of GPM. "We have seen a decrease by 30% in school absenteeism due to illness and there is a reduction in prolonged children illnesses in general. Along with good nutrition, the medical services provided by Dr Rathod has had many positive effects on the children and the community at large." 
Health check ups are vital in remote village

Dr. Rathod with three GPM medical interns from the UK

Dr. Rathod at one of the village classes