Sunday, December 17, 2017

GPM is proud to Inaugurate the Joshua Jacob Greenberger Learning Center in Kalwa Slums

Bob and Penny Greenberger cutting center's ribbon
The Kalwa slum community was abuzz with excitement last week as GPM inaugurated the Joshua Jacob Greenberger Learning Center. The Center will provide a new innovative educational home in the Bhaskar Nagar neighborhood in the heart of the Kalwa slum, a community of 200,000 residents. The Center, named in in loving memory of GPM-Entwine fellow Joshua Jacob Greenberger who tragically passed away in May 2017, will facilitate accessible quality educational support to children from preschool through tenth grade.

Josh’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Penny and Bob Greenberger, flew in to Mumbai from Cleveland, Ohio, in order to attend the opening. Josh devoted his time teaching the vulnerable children of living in the slums with the 2013 volunteer cohort. 

“It is a great honour to be able to dedicate the dedicate the learning center in Josh’s name and in the presence of his parents,” said GPM Founding Director, Jacob Sztokman.

Consul General Mr. Yaakov Finkelstein affixing the mezuzah

The inauguration began with a pujah, a traditional Hindu good luck ceremony, conducted by Mrs Savita Mishra a local resident and GPM field worker. This was followed by a Jewish consecration ritual of hanging of a “Mezuzah”, a doorpost talisman, by Israeli Consul General Mr. Yaakov Finkelstein. 

The children of the GPM ‘Love2Learn’ school then preformed dances and recited Hindi poetry to commemorate the event. Grade 4 students performed an elaborate hand stomping performance, Grades 1-3 sang the Beetles song ‘Here comes the Sun’, and Pre-school kids sang a dramatic rendition ‘I’m a Little Teapot.’

“It is so meaningful for Josh’s legacy to be a learning center that cares for children’s education as well as their health and nutrition,” Mrs. Greenberger said. “He loved children so much.”  

Children at the Joshua Jacob Greenberger Learning Center dedication
The inauguration coincided with the eve of the first day of the Jewish festival of Chanukah. “As in the festival, the children here are binging light and goodness to the whole community”, Mr. Greenberger said.   

“The Chanukah story is about the power of small lights in the darkness,” Mr. Yaakov Finkelstein explained, as he donated two framed posters of inspiring sites in Israel. “It shows you how a small light has the power to do so much good. Each of the children who will use this center for their education will be a small light, making their parents and community proud as they bring good into the world.”

Josh's plaque greets the children every day at the JLC
The educational staff shared their excitement as well. “This learning center is so important to the children in the area,” said second grade teacher, Ms. Ranjani Sharma. “It opens up wonderful opportunities for them.”

Since the center began operations in September, it has been filled with children, staff, and volunteers from 8am till 9pm. Learning sessions for 220 children take place at the center utilizing multi-media technology and innovative teaching techniques. Classes include a ‘Life Learning’ course of young adults who had dropped out of school at a young age and a night session for study and tutorials for years 8-10. Classes for grades 1-7 are ongoing during the day and a Preschool class starts the kids off on a life of eager learning. 

Consul General Mr. Yaakov Finkelstein with the children
Melanie Samad and Hannah Culang both volunteers from the US spoke about their meaningful time spent teaching the children at the JLC. “We have received so much from the children while we are teaching them and we are so grateful for this experience,” explained Ms. Samad.

Also in attendance were Mrs. Nurit Finkelstein, Israel Counsul Ms. Galit Laroche-Falche, JDC India Director Elijah Jacobs, Rabbi Israel Koslovsky of Mumbai Chabad, GPM teachers, GPM staff, GPM volunteers, ‘Love2Learn’ Coordinator, Thaiza Diaz and GPM India Director Kenneth Dsouza. 

GPM's Jacob Sztokman and Kenneth Dsouza giving the opening remarks 
Before eating the Samosas an Jullabies, prepared by GPM staff, the children washed their hands with the new handwashing basin donated by our partner organization. Sundara, to encourage good hygiene education. As a special treat, each child also received a Halva dessert from the Israel Consulate in Mumbai.

“The Joshua Jacob Greenberg Learning Center is affectionately referred to by the children and teachers as ‘Josh’s Center’ or ‘JLC’,” said Mr. Sztokman. “It is a true community based education center that makes us very proud.”

With the children

GPM teachers, staff and volunteers

Mrs. Nurit Finkelstein, Israel Counsul Ms. Galit Laroche-Falche with some of the children
New handwashing basin donated by Sundara;promoting good hygiene 

Samosas, Jullabies and...Halva!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

GPM parlor meeting in Denver!

GPM cordially invites you to attend a parlor meeting! If you are in the Denver area, join us on December 9th at 7pm for an informative evening. GPM's founding director, Jacob Sztokman will be speaking on the topic of, "A Jewish response to childhood poverty and ill-health in the developing world."

This is a great chance to learn more about GPM and get involved with this incredible organization.

For more information or to RSVP please email Jacob at: 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A great present for vulnerable children this #GivingTuesday

Happy #GivingTuesday from all of us at GPM. It is easy to remember the excitement of going school supply shopping. From new pencils to fresh notebooks, there is a certain thrill to picking out your  materials for the year. 

The GPM students cannot afford school supplies. They do not have have desks to work on in their classrooms. Many children living in the under-served slums and villages of India come to school and sit on the floor to learn. Students bend over uncomfortably while writing and studying. This adversely effects their eyesight and posture which hampers their ability to study in school and to do homework back in their homes. We have also seen children carry their school books in their hands because they can't afford to buy a school bag!
GPM found a local Indian social enterprise that makes a school bag that turns into a desk for only $20! 
We thought that it would be great idea to be able to give each child a school bag that they can use as a desk in class and when they go back to their home to do homework. 
And each desk-bag is inexpensive! For just $20 you can give a child living in the slums a gift that will be used to further their education…and help them on their way to a brighter future.
Please help GPM give this awesome desk-bag to 300 children in our school in the slums. Our goal is to raise $6000 so that each of the 300 children will receive their desk-bags at the start of term on Jan 2018! 

We are excited to give the children in our classes an educational item that would fill their lives with pride; make them feel important while helping with their posture and studies. The desk-bags are light weight, water proof which looks after children’s’ backs while protecting schoolbooks from monsoon rains while walking to class.

Research has shown that sitting while leaning over and writing is bad for posture and eye-sight! The amazing desk in the school bag helps children study at school and at home!  

Monday, November 20, 2017

GPM and Sundara celebrate International Hand Washing Day

Although it may have seemed like an ordinary day, October 15th was Global Hand Washing Day. The children in the GPM Joshua Greenberger Learning Center in the Kalwa slums celebrated by participating in a Sundara run hand-washing workshops, plays and received fun lessons on proper hand hygiene. 

GPM children with their Sundara Soap

Demonstration on proper hand washing
It is common practice in many parts of the developed world to wash one's hands multiple times a day, and it is taken for granted how much hand washing plays a role in keeping us healthy. Many people in developing countries are not only unaware of the importance of hand washing, but do not have access to soap. According to UNICEF "Over 300,000 children under five died from diarrhoeal diseases linked to limited access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene in 2015." This number is unacceptable and can be prevented simply by washing hands before eating and after going to the bathroom. 

GPM proudly partners with Sundara, a fantastic organization that provides recycled soap to thousands of children in urban slums and under-served rural villages.  Sundara's main focus is to raise awareness around hand hygiene through an innovative approach, bringing excitement to young children and getting the entire community involved. 

Through plays, special trained hygiene ambassadors, interactive activities, and posters children learn the importance of hand-washing. Sundara provides all of the materials, while GPM makes sure that the children are ready to learn. The GPM children and staff had a wonderful time celebrating with Sundara, and look forward to continuing our partnership. 

Sundara's 'Hygiene Ambassadors' explaining good hand-washing techniques

Watching an informative and fun film about hygiene habits

Thanks for the soap Sundara

A fun play where germs are the bad guys and soap is the hero!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A second medical clinic in the slums!

On the first day of the Diwali festival called Dhanteras, dedicated to prosperity and wealth, Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) and Doctors for You (DFY) launched a satellite branch of Shravan Health Centre in Paunpada slums in Kalwa east, Thane. The festive inauguration incorporated a free health camp for 50 people from the locality. The centre will continue with General Out Patient Department and specialist OPD for Skin and Diabetes.

“The idea is to make medicines accessible for everyone,” said Dr Amit Kumar Nohwar, cofounder of the DFY Mumbai Project.

The new medical facility is a branch of the Shravan Health Centre launched by GPM and DFY in 2015 in the Bhaskar Nagar neighborhood about five kilometers from its new satellite branch.

“In a neighborhood of 200,000 people, there should be dozens of clinics providing accessible quality health care to its vulnerable communities,” explains Jacob Sztokman of GPM. “Unfortunately, this is not the case. The doctors at the Shravan Health Center recognized the need for an additional site providing health services and we with our partners Doctors For You took up the challenge “Accessible health care is a human rights and development issue. It’s also an economic and social issue. When children have access to basic medication and immunizations they are able to thrive, when their parents can receive quality treatment they are able to provide for their families.”

'Slum dwellers' often do not get quality access to healthcare and medicines likewise. That is why, such projects gain importance. “The reason we started with the project is to help the women and children in need, in particular. Now, they can access healthcare as well as quality healthcare at their doorstep. Anything that helps people would be a healthy initiative,” said Kenneth Dsouza, Managing Director of GPM.

Dr Nowhar adds, “Dhanteras is mainly for praying for good health. Hence, we launched the medical centre on this special day.”

The new medical clinic will provide hundreds of families with accessible quality and affordable (often free) health care. The expansion of services is due in part to the generous support of JDC Board Director Larry Field and Family of Chicago with the focus of providing a medical outreach service to the most vulnerable in the community. GPM and DFY are also looking forward to extend the treatment of infant malnutrition at the new clinic based on the success of the Dr. Gerald J. Friedman Infant Malnutrition Intervention Program at Shravan Health Center.

For more information and to donate for equipment, medicines and vaccinations, click here:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Happy Diwali from GPM!

Courtesy of The Sun UK
October 19th marks the holiday of Diwali, meaning 'series of lights.' Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists around the world are celebrating the triumph of good over evil; while marking the return of Ram, the lord of virtue, to his kingdom after 14 years of exile.

In Mumbai, one can tell it is Diwali because there are beautiful fireworks in the night sky and candles lit everywhere. In India houses are cleaned, people dress in their finest clothing, visit family, and exchange gifts. The celebration lasts for five days.

The GPM children had a big Diwali celebration in class before their holiday break. They had drawing competitions, and danced around to traditional music.

On behalf of the GPM staff, we wish all who are celebrating a happy Diwali!

GPM children drawing their interpretations of Diwali

GPM teachers dressing up for Diwali party

Happy Diwali sign outside the Joshua Greenberger Learning Center in Kalwa
*To learn more about Diwali read:

Friday, October 13, 2017

It's exam time at GPM!

Can you remember that feeling of an upcoming exam in school? Sharpened pencils, folders filled with worksheets, and butterflies in your stomach.

GPM understands that children's self esteem can be assulted during exam time. We put in a lot of effort to make sure our students feel confident and positive before and after their exams. It is important that they feel encouraged to keep learning and trying even if a subject does not come easy to them.

After receiving the exams, the teachers are better able to understand where their emphasis should be focused. Everything is done in a positive and encouraging way, and the children know that if they work hard they will succeed. And whatever their results are, the students know that their teachers are there to support them, motivate them to do better and celebrate their victories.
Middle school aged children taking  exams

Student consults teacher with question 

Teacher Hayley giving exams to the preschoolers

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Two Prominent Mumbai Newspapers feature stories about GPM

GPM women getting interviewed by Mid-Day 
 GPM is thrilled to  be featured in two local, Mumbai newspapers.  Mid-day Newspaper and Better India, both well-known newspapers, chose to publish articles about GPM's work in the Kalwa Slums and under served villages. Jacob Sztokman, founder of GPM, regards the articles as an act of true community activism, “When the wider community takes an interest in the community development work that we are doing, I feel as if GPM’s mission of community building is coming to life.
Picture of the Newspaper Article

The articles discuss GPM’s work with underprivileged children, but mainly focuses on its women’s empowerment initiatives. Both writers journeyed to the Delicio kitchen, located in the Kalwa slums, in order to sit down with the GPM women and learn about how they prepare meals for the local school children. Krutika Behrawala, of Mid-Day, wrote,” The women work in rehearsed sync. They've known each other for eight years. Most of them live in one room-kitchen tenements neighboring chawls.” It was very inspiring to have reporters come and interview these women. They mostly come from small villages outside of Mumbai, so to have their stories shared to all of Mumbai and the rest of the world, is a very special experience for them. 

These women's stories are of empowerment and hard work. It is important for their communities to see the benefits of empowered young girls and women. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Job opportunities for GPM young adults

Staff from Meluha Hotel briefing the Life Learners 
In underprivileged areas, it is common for children to leave school, at as early as elementary school age, in order to work to help their families earn money to survive. To combat this issue, GPM provides nutritious daily meals to students so that parents can keep their children in school. The Life learners Program, is a recent initiative that GPM started in June 2017, to help educate young adults who left the education track. Initiated by the JDC-GPM  2017 Summer cohort of volunteers, the program has been very well received, and the young adults are eager to catch up on what they have missed. Several students in the Life Learners Program have been encouraged to go back to school and continue their studies.
Life Learners with GPM Volunteers

Mehula Fern Hotel (a local Mumbai Hotel), recently approached GPM with an idea. The Meluha Hotel is a GPM partner who specifically collaborates with  Naya, a GPM paper recycling social enterprise. The hotel wanted to speak to our young adults in the Life Learners Program to let them know about available job opportunities at the hotel and career tracks in hospitality.

Ms. Pearl Dias, the Director of Training and Development at the Mehula Fern Hotel came with her team to the GPM Joshua Greenberger Learning Center in Kalwa and presented the Life Learners with an outline of what type of education is required to move up in the hotel world, and the best entry level jobs to start their paths. 

We are extremely appreciative and proud that Mehula Fern Hotel took the time to speak to our young adults. This is community development at its finest. GPM strives to ensure that all of its work is done at the local level. Our students are  taught by local teachers and our clinic is run by local doctors and nurses; so it is a dream come true that our young adults are being given opportunities to find career direction at GPM.