Monday, January 14, 2013

Indian Jewish young professionals volunteer in the slums of Mumbai - a new joint GPM-JDC project.

The JDC-GPM Internship Program is an exciting new four-month long volunteer opportunity for young Jewish Indian professionals and undergraduate students to work with the children of the Mumbai slums. In this program participants make a meaningful difference and a positive impact on the lives of youth living in the Kalwa slum, North Mumbai, through an organized program of social and learning experiences. The brainchild of JDC Country Director for India, Mandie Winston, this program is the first initiative that brings together young Indian Jews and Jewish volunteers from around the world to collaborate on providing literacy and nutrition in the Mumbai slums.

The Jews of Mumbai, a small but increasingly vibrant and active community of approximately 5000 people, have a strong Jewish culture and identity thanks in part to the vigorous efforts of community leaders, the local JDC and JCC. Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) is a collaborative Jewish initiative that provides nutrition and literacy to the children in the slums of Mumbai.

“As a Jewish initiative we are excited that the JDC India shares our vision and has created a program where local Jewish Indian young professionals come together to volunteer with children living in the slums”, said GPM founding director Jacob Sztokman. “This is a fantastic opportunity for participants to take ownership of a great charitable enterprise deep in the slums of Mumbai.”

The JDC-GPM Internship Program with the support of REAP, GPM’s grass root partner in the slums of Mumbai, offers the children living in the slums an opportunity to socialize together in a fun, empowered and enjoyable informal educational setting.

“Participation in the Gabriel Project Mumbai encourages the local community members to reach out beyond their Jewish circle and see the difference they can make to the under-privileged sections of society at large in the true spirit and essence of Tikkun Olam.” Elijah Jacob, Director of JDC India added.

GPM’s International Jewish volunteers also work side by side with their Indian Jewish counterparts in developing an incredible experience for the children living in the slums. “The JDC-GPM Internship Program has two implications: it gives the youth the opportunity to give back to society while  identifying with the concept of Tikun Olam and it will also help them grow into responsible individuals who will continue to care for service in more ways", said Salome Abraham Program Coordinator for Young Adults, Service and Leadership Initiatives, JDC India.

“The JDC-GPM Internship Program is a way for the young Jewish Indian adults to better understand our neighbors, help children in need while exploring the Jewish values of gemilut chasadim (acts of kindness), tzedakah (charity) and social justice,”  added Sigalith Isaac, GPM Program Coordinator. “As the participants are starting their careers and families, social justice, charity and helping others will be a strong foundation to the lives they are building.”