Tuesday, November 12, 2013

‘Its more than literacy; it’s a brighter future.' Read about Hayley’s work at GPM

Namaste…. I am Hayley Dsouza working for what I believe is an amazing organization-- Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM)! My job is Volunteer Liaison and Educational Director and every day I work closely with the international volunteers in giving over educational, practical and fun lessons to the children living in the slums of Mumbai. I love my job as it is so rewarding and even though it is physically difficult (working in extreme weather conditions: rain, heat, mud etc) I enjoy every day I spend with the children who inspire me as much as , I hope, we at GPM have an impact on them!

I would like to share with you some of the innovative educational themes we have initiated for the children in classes at the Kalwa slums. Every class has a well thought out lesson plan and we divide the weeks in to themes so that there is continuity to our curriculum. Of course, the wonderful international volunteers develop the details of the lesson plans with us and this is great as we are exposed to educational ideas from around the world. I feel that the lesson plan development is a true partnership of ideas.
Our first theme for the current October-December session was ‘International Week’ where each of our volunteers introduced themselves and told the children which part of the world they come from. They taught them ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you’ in English, Samoan, Italian, South African and Hebrew. The children were thrilled and excited to learn something other than their local language. Till today, four weeks after the ‘International Week’ it’s so nice to hear them greeting us in a different language and repeating these words when we finish class with them.  During that week we gave out small paper crowns and made them feel like Kings and Queens for a Day, just like the Queen of England; because that’s where Tori is from (England). We made them stand like the Statue of Liberty as that is where Jenny is from (USA) and we made pizza cut of cardboard, inspired by Debby who hails from Italy.  Shira, from South Africa, where there a lots of animals took the children on a safari where the children had lots of fun acting like wild animals, and Eden from Israel showed a poster of  a Holy wall and told the kids to write their wishes on a paper and put it in the crevices of the ‘wall’. What was most touching is what kind of wishes the children wrote down. Their wishes were not ones for asking for a better life, a fancy car or good food or money but simple innocent wishes like “I want to study and become a doctor and make my parents proud”. That touched me the most, to see these kids asking for NOTHING else but to make their parents proud????  WOW!!!! The children asked Eden to take their wishes to the REAL Holy wall in Israel when she returns. (read more about International Week here)

The next week was ‘Water Week’. We explained to the children about oceans, lakes and rivers and also how water comes in different forms – liquid, solid and gas. We performed water-based experiments with them and showed them how water and oil cannot mix.

‘Cultural Week’ followed and we taught different modes of art, music, song and dance. We started with music and we introduced the children to Classical, Opera, Country and Rock ‘n Roll music. We listened to all types of music and also showed them a clip on the laptops. The fascinated faces and moods of the children changed with every tempo and with every cadence. Today, we spoke about films and movies and told them how movies started in 1800’s . We didn’t just tell them that movies started off  black and white with no sound, we showed them!  During the clip of Charlie Chaplin, the children laughed so much! The children laughed every time Charlie Chaplin did something funny and I realized, watching their faces, that they were really enjoying themselves. We told them in time and change in technology movies changed to special effects…and then we showed them a clip of ‘Avataar’!

The absolute highlight of the week was when we told them that they were all movie stars and they had to put place their hands in paint and make a hand-print on posters with their name below their hands. Yes, it was just like the famous ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’!

In short, I take great pleasure and feel much joy seeing the children’s happy faces each time we go to class. The children know that they will learn something new every single day. They know that we have come to give them knew experiences and they know that people care for them. The children eagerly wait for the volunteers to come and their moods completely change. They are tired in the heat of the classrooms, but thanks to their dedicated teachers, and our input, we still have all students in full attendance every day, all wanting and waiting to learn; not an easy feat in the slums of Mumbai.

I am so happy and proud to be a part of the GPM …Thank You…Toda…Dhankie…Fa'afetai…Gracias.

Please support GPM and give generously to our annual appeal. You are supporting our Nutrition and Literacy programs for the beautiful children living in the slums of Mumbai.

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