Monday, August 6, 2018

Masala Mamas are “full-color joy” – writes Tablet Magazine

Reviewers and readers are loving our new book, ‘Masala Mamas: Recipes and Stories of Indian Women Changing their Communities through Food and Love’, which is about the work of the women in Kalwa who provide daily, hot, nutritious meals to the children in the GPM Love2Learn schools. “It’s an art book,” writes Joanne Palmer at the New Jersey Jewish Standard, ”full of lusciously, extravagantly colorful photographs of food and the women who create it. And it’s a storybook, telling the tales of those women’s lives.”

“The book is super colorful and the expressions of the beautiful women who come forward to cook for this common cause, are showcased so well in the pictures,” writes the famous food blogger Jeyashri, from Jeyashri’s kitchen

“Our Girl Scout troop in New York City made the Mango Lassi recipe in honor of World Thinking
Day,” writes Girl Scout Troop 3322, NYC. “We wanted to learn about how the Masala Mamas make a difference in the slums of Mumbai. While the cardamom spice in the recipe was a strong, new flavor for many of the girls, trying this popular Indian drink sparked a wonderful discussion about spices used in their various cultures to flavor their favorite foods.”

“Perhaps the most striking about the Masala Mamas cookbook is the full-color joy emanating from the pages,” writes food writer Leah Koenig at Tablet Magazine. “The recipes are interspersed with profiles of the women, and the book is ripe with vibrant photos that capture the spirit behind their labor. “

Proceeds from the sale of the book go to support the women in the Masala Mamas kitchen in Kalwa. Bulk sales are also available and are a great way to support the work of GPM. 

To order your own copy, or to learn more, go to 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

A fabulous new doctor in the slums!

Immunizations in collaboration with municipal health authorities
After two years of operation of the Shravan Health Center (SHC), GPM and Doctors4You conducted a comprehensive internal evaluation about the impact of the SHC on the Kalwa community of 200,000 people. The findings include significant positive outcomes, including very successful immunization programs that increased the proportions of immunization in children by 20%. 

Dr. Swetambari Thanawala and patient part 
of the monthly GPM medical check up 
We are also pleased to report that the municipal health authorities regularly use the SHC for workshops and public programs such as eye exams, vaccination camps, diabetes testing, hygiene education, and other vital health issues. The Dr. Gerald J. Friedman Infant Malnutrition Intervention Program has been very effective as well as the Birthday Health Club and the monthly dermatology and diabetes clinics. The number of children who have been treated at the SHC has met our projected target of almost 600 a month or 7000 children a year!

Eye examinations and workshop run by Doctors 4 You
in collaboration with the Indian Cancer Society at the SHC
The one primary area in which we found crucial need for improvement was around women. Our evaluation showed that very few women came to the clininc for their own care, in particular for gynecological issues. In consideration of the fact that the SHC is meant for children and maternal care, this was a glaring loss. Upon further examination, community surveys and consultation with the SHC staff, we discovered that the reason why the women were not coming was because the doctors were male, and women were not comfortable seeking the medical care of male doctors in private issues.  Whether this is because of Indian culture or women's private concerns, the result was that women were not receiving the medical care that we were hoping to offer them -- care that they need and deserve.
Women's Health workshop run by Dr. Swetambari Thanawala

As a result of this discovery, GPM decided to recruit a female OB/GYN and pediatrician. In July Dr. Swetambari Thanawala began working at the SHC!

Already in her first month, Dr. Thanawala's presence has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of women seeking treatment and the goal is for more and more women will come to the clinic as word of Dr. Thanawala's activities with GPM.

Dr. Swetambari Thanawala in action
Dr. Thanawala is also very engaged with the community and has held an open community workshop on women's health at the Shravan Health Center last week.

Friday, August 3, 2018

GPM expands to rural government schools!

In a new strategic partnership, GPM has been invited by the Indian Government to bring the signature GPM Eat2Learn education, nutrition and children’s healthcare programs to government schools in the Palghar region in Maharashtra.

The local government authority has invited GPM to teach in four governmental schools conducting seven classes for around 300 students in villages in the Palghar District in Maharashtra.

This partnership raises the capacity of GPM to have an impactful reach on the children in the remote tribal rural communities of Maharashtra.
“Partnering with the Indian Government is a significant milestone for us,” said GPM India Director Kenneth DSouza. “This will enable us to reach more children and begin working towards even more scale.”

GPM has hired a cohort of professional, qualified teachers from the area who have received additional training. The teachers will be teaching grades 1-8 and will facilitate additional GPM educational activities. This is all in addition to the continuation of Love2Learn educational programs in the region.

GPM's Eat2Learn program –  which provides hot, nutritious meals to hundreds of children in school
in the Kalwa and Palgar branches of the Love2Learn schools –  will be providing the schoolchildren with two nutritious meals a day in government schools.  The midday meal is a fresh, hot curry that supplements some of the basic foods that children receive from the government. These will vary between egg curries, mixed lentils, and soya bean in order to ensure that children receive protein-rich foods to enhance their physical and mental development. The afternoon meal is a dry snack such as poha, eggs, and other protein-rich food.

GPM will also be providing a series of health and hygiene initiatives in the government schools. One initiative, as part of the GPM-Sundara program, teaches children hand-washing with soap. Sundara provides recycled soap which is used by children in the class. They wash every day before each meal.

In another initiative, after each meal, the children learn to brush their teeth using skills and tooth-brushes provided in partnership with Humble Smile Foundation. The children also receive training in the importance of oral hygiene and hand-washing.

The teachers also received training in how to maintain these healthy habits in the classroom among the students. Every Saturday, includes in a session devoted to hygiene education.
GPM is happy to have it’s teachers in theses government schools. “We are privileged to be able to provide an extra support for government teachers educating tribal children in remote rural locations by placing one of our Love2Learn teachers as full time teachers in these schools,” explains Thaiza Dias, Programs coordinator at GPM. “We are overwhelmed with the knowledge that our education efforts over the last few years have shown success and have been recognized by the government educational authorities.”

GPM also provides healthcare for the children in school. Once a month a doctor visits all the students to do a preventive and curative healthcare checkup. He checks skin, chest, weight, teeth, and overall wellbeing. Children who are sick receive prescription medicines where necessary.   In previous years, doctors would only treat Love2Learn students, but now the doctor is treating all the children in all the government schools associated with GPM.

Teachers will also check fingernails and toenails and once a month, GPM will be sending a barber to each class to trim the children’s hair. This initiative came from the doctor’s check-up, in which observed that many children didn’t cut their nails or hair. Long nails can be dangerous and unhygienic.

“In the Dahanu taluka (municipal district) schools will be given Gabriel Project Love2Learn classes
and support…and this permission has been given,” wrote Mr Rajesh Kankal, District Education Officer in Palghar Maharashtra.

“It is exciting to be able to work in partnership with the government to simultaneously provide services that attend to all three crucial aspects of children’s wellbeing: education, nutrition and health,” says GPM Founding Director Jacob Sztokman. “This is key to the GPM philosophy. We need to take care of all these of these areas of children’s lives in order to provide the best setting for them to thrive.”

New volunteer program opens in the village of Ashte

GPM launched a new volunteer program focusing on rural development this summer. A group of  eight JDC-Entwine fellows are spending a month in the remote tribal village region of Palgar, in the village of Ashte after a month of teaching in urban slums in Mumbai. The fellows, 18-25-year-olds from the US, Israel and the UK, are working in agriculture, education, and women’s empowerment.

“GPM has been investing in rural development in order to address root causes of poverty and enable Indian families to thrive on their ancestral lands,” explained GPM Founding Director Jacob Sztokman. “In order to help stem the flow of forced migration, which happens when families do not have the resources that they need in their villages, we have initiated a series of project with the members of the community that will help provide long-term solutions to issues of agriculture, education, and economics. The volunteers provide useful assistance and support in all these areas.”

The eight new volunteers -- Daniel Jubas, Noaam Zahavi, Betzalel Newman, Lauren Lewis, Alisa Shmukler, Noa Zarur, Alisa Sirbu, Sarah Crotty, and Zoe Krut – have been teaching classes in school, working in the rice paddies during monsoon season, and helping women in the various empowerment programs.

“Working with Gabriel Project Mumbai,” writes Lauren Lewis, “is a really great experience for me.” Read more about her experiences here:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Two GPM teachers get married!

A wedding ceremony is an incredibly special occasion in anyone's life. A traditional Indian wedding ceremony is both special and unique in its' traditions. 

The wedding ceremony of Anjana and Krishna, 2 of GPM's beloved teachers, was a beautiful event. It took place in Bhusarpada village, where GPM operates.

The day before the wedding, the Mehendi Ceremony took place. Henna is applied in a decorative pattern on the bride's hands and feet in order to utilize the hennas natural medicinal purposes of cooling the body and relieving stress.

On the day of the wedding, Anjana wore an Indian saree and Krishna wore a dhoti. Beautiful colors decorated the event as guests dressed in traditional Indian attire arrived. Music and laughter were heard the entire time as friends and family had a fabulous time.

Both children and staff from GPM were thrilled to be able to attend this spectacular event. A gift was given on behalf of GPM for all the hard work Anjana and Krishna have done. We wish them a beautiful home filled with love and good tidings!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Annual Day Celebration at GPM!

There are many beautiful festivities in India but one festivity remains the most highly anticipated for school-age children: Annual Day

Annual Day is a joyous celebration filled with colorful performances, rhythmic music, and motivational speeches. Gabriel Project Mumbai's education program, Love2Learn, held a celebratory event for the children from the program in honor of Annual Day, where children were able put on lively performances and receive honors for their academic achievements. 

The Annual Day celebration began with the lighting of the lamp, a tradition in Hinduism before any celebration so as to begin and end the day with an invocation of light. A speech was said to thank all of the supporters of GPM. Next, parents and friends had the opportunity to watch performances from the children. Fifteen different classes of kids dressed up in their finest clothes and entertained the audience with Marathi and tribal folk dances, skits, and English songs. As children dressed in vibrant colors spiraled around the stage, the audience could hardly contain their delight! At the end, the 3 best performances were awarded with group prizes. 

During the ceremony, the 'No Plastic Ashte' campain was launched. Sample cloth bags were distributed with the goal of ending plastic usage and waste. GPM purchased over 100 meters of cloth that will be given to local women to stitch bags.

The celebration continued with a motivational speech by Ms. Nilima, an MSc. graduate, who thanked her parents for supporting her interests and encouraged her to follow her dreams. She encouraged the young girls to pursue their education and to refrain from the pressures of marriage at a young age, which has become common practice for young girls living in the slums.

The incredible day ended with awards given out to children celebrating their talent for the performances, and for their success and achievement of finishing another school year! GPM recognizes the sustained efforts of the teachers and staff that work tirelessly every day to make sure the children are given a terrific education. As a thank you, the staff were awarded a small token of appreciation.

This day was made possible because of the generous residents from Ashte village that offered GPM a pavilion and stage for the ceremony. As a thank you to GPM, a sound system was set up by local business owners that had graduated from GPM. Catering for the event was done by GPM's kitchen initiative, the Masala Mamas, that prepared a delicious meal for everyone that attended. 

Both parents and children enjoyed a fabulous, fun-filled party for Annual Day. Thank you to everyone that made this day so special for all of our children at GPM!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Great Collaboration with the International Peace Paper Project

Drew Matott and Jana Schumacher of Peace Paper Project led a 2-week seminar at the GPM Naya paper recycling social enterprise in the slums of Mumbai. Naya founder Adit Goschalk came in from London to facilitate the hands-on workshop to improve and teach new paper making techniques, book binding and explore new paper recycling techniques to create unique pieces of artwork.

Sonali, Rupali, Drew, Jana and Adit
Peace Paper Project, an international community-arts initiative that utilizes traditional papermaking as a form of trauma therapy, social engagement, and community activism have conducted hundreds of workshops worldwide in conjunction with community leaders, mental health professionals, and art therapists. The organization is dedicated to helping strengthen communities through our workshops, interventions, and international projects.

It was a truly global collaboration in the Kalwa slums, with the Peace Paper team from the U.S. and Germany, Adit from the UK, building strong relationships with the Naya team working together to create beautiful new recycled paper products, expressing the determination and passion of the members of the Naya women’s collective.

“It has been a real privilege to collaborate with Peace Paper Project, sharing expertise and developing wonderfully innovative paper recycling techniques”, explained Adit. “Yet, most powerful of all has been the energy and inspiration we’ve shared through different languages and cultures showing the
power of creativity.”

GPM and Naya are proud to be a collaborative partner with Peace Paper Project. We are grateful for their guidance and hope to be welcoming them back in the future to continue to build on what was achieved.

To find out more about GPM's Naya CLICK HERE
To find out more about Peace Paper Project CLICK HERE

Monthly Birthday Health Club saves lives

According to UNICEF, one child dies every twenty seconds from a disease that is preventable by a vaccine. Whether from a lack of education, funding, or local clinics children in the Kalwa slums are at risk of falling victim to a horrendous disease that could easily be prevented through vaccination.

In order to combat these preventable diseases, GPM opened The Sharvan Health Center. We have seen great results from the center and continue to expand everyday. 

Julie Mendelsohn of Israel, approached GPM with an exciting project to start a monthly birthday health club. Every child receives a free checkup at the GPM Sharvan Health Center which will include vaccinations during the month of their birthday. The child will also receive educational gifts such as pencil cases and notebooks. On top of that, their parents will receive 2 kilos of rice and other grains. The purpose of the club is to  encourage every parent to take their child to the health center for checkups, vaccinations, and other medications. 

After four months of operation Jacob Sztokman, GPM's founding director, believes this new program will reach beyond the GPM classrooms,"We not only want the children of GPM to become members of the monthly Birthday Health Club, but we also wish to extend this program to all children living in the Kalwa Slums." Our first four months of birthday kids had their checkups, and the program is off to a great success!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Sundara's Lip Reconstruction

After the lip reconstruction last week, Sundara's parents cried with joy! Sundara, a loving, sociable, and kindhearted 5 year old in Gabriel Project Mumbai's Preschool class and living in the Kalwa slums, was born with a cleft palate (picture on the left). 
This facial abnormality causes not only emotional pain to a child, but also causes complications in eating, language, general communication and future obvious social issues. (Out of privacy concerns we have changed Sundara's name and have covered her beautiful eyes).
Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) staff have taken Sundara and her family through 2 very difficult operations, and physical and speech therapy spanning the last 6 months. 
Sundara was a trooper and the results have been great. She has a long way to go; 2 more cosmetic operations and a lot of speech therapy.

Thanks to wonderful donors ALL her surgeries are paid for and we are so grateful for that. GPM is also taking care of her ongoing therapies. GPM would like to thank the amazing doctors at Zion hospital for the expertise and care. 
Special thanks to Dennis Moses, Nikkita Worlikar and David Ramrajkar for all their care and love. Congratulations to Sundara and her family, we are with you and we wish Sundara a lovely future.