Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Needy Katkari tribal children helped by GPM

In the hamlet, Gawali Pada in the village of Raipur, 19 Katkari tribal children who are very poor and malnourished are faced with a lack of nutrition, education and accessible healthcare. GPM is stepping in to look after them.

Together with the local villagers of Raipur, GPM is taking care of the 19 children whose parents are landless and migrate for half the year in search of work and food. In many cases the children aged 6-14 migrate with them.

The Katkari are nomadic forest people who live throughout the village areas of Maharashtra where GPM works. The Katkari  are landless and are classified by the government as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) - they are the most poor and needy of all the tribes where GPM works.

GPM is on a mission to keep the 19 children in school and well looked after. GPM teacher, Mr Suresh Gawali is a local teacher from the village who is very passionate about providing quality education to the ‘disadvantaged’ children of his village. Classes continue after parents migrate and GPM pays a small stipend to the children’s relatives and family friends that have agreed to host the children in their homes for 6 months a year. GPM now needs to supplement the children with physical items, like clothes, shoes, stationary kits, blankets, towels and hygiene products. The run-down classroom will receive teaching aids, new lighting, basic educational toys and mats to sit on. GPM has been providing a nutritious lunch and afternoon snack for the children but now we need to supply daily dosage of fruits every day – something they need very much.

And this is where GPM needs your help. Please help us give the 19 Katkari children a future by giving them access to quality education, good nutrition, clothing and healthcare. We simply need $2850 to achieve this for the 2018-19 academic year…that’s just $150 a child…for the year!

Please donate generously…We will update you every few months how the children are going in school, their challenges and successes:  https://rootfunding.com/campaigns/helping_katkari_tribal_children

If there is anyone out there who would like to sponsor a boarding home for these children so that GPM can look after the children 24/7 please contact us.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Welcome New Year-long JDC Development Fellow at GPM

Dov Boonin, a recent graduate of Oxford University in London, has joined Gabriel Project
Mumbai (GPM) as the year-long JDC Jewish Service Corps Fellow at GPM. Dov's main focus at GPM is to work on community development initiatives and support international/local volunteer engagement. His position is funded by a generous grant by the UK based Pears Foundation.

The 23-year-old Philosophy Politics and Economics major who also studied for a year in Jerusalem. served was President of Oxford University's Jewish Society, spent a summer running summer camps in local schools in Shanghai, and participated in Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’ Ben Azzai Programme for social justice with the organization Tzedek, where he visited Accra and Tamale, Ghana.

“I love learning from people from different countries, and supporting communities,” he says. In his spare time, he loves to read, play badminton and squash, play guitar, and bike-ride. “I also love meeting new people, and so am looking forward to becoming a part of your community.”

Monday, September 3, 2018

Stay Tuned...New Dental Clinic at GPM - Opening November 2018

The first ever dental clinic in the Kalwa slums is being built by GPM, slated to open in November, 2018.

The Martha B. Leigh Community Dental Clinic, located in the Bhaskar Nagar neighborhood in Kalwa, will provide essential treatment for oral diseases such as cavities, extractions, and oral disease. The Clinic, which was made possible thanks to the Martha B. Leigh Charitable Fund, will also provide a holistic, community-based oral-health education program in cooperation with Humble Smile Foundation. As part of the education program, the Clinic will also provide advanced procedures at discounted prices. The dental staff will conduct outreach in the community, going to people’s homes to talk about issues such as limiting sugar, brushing teeth, and using toothpaste. In addition, GPM will provide subsidies for children whose families are unable to pay even the discounted costs. Anyone who has a severe dental issue will be referred to experts outside of the slum.

"As part of our approach of working holistically with families and communities, we discovered that there is a real need for a dental clinic in the slums," explains GPM Founding Director, Jacob Sztokman. GPM found that many children have severe dental problems such as rotting teeth, oral deformities, oral hygiene problems, and even losing teeth -- because until now, there was not a single qualified dentist in the entire Kalwa slum of 200,000 people. Residents of the slum need to travel far distances for dental care, if they could afford it. "It seems that dental care has come to be considered a great luxury in the Kalwa slum because of how difficult it is to attain. But this should not be the case. Dentistry, especially for children, is not a luxury but a vital necessity," Mr. Sztokman says.

Dental problems can cause great pain and distress, as well as risks of infections and other diseases. In addition, the failure to attend to children’s dental needs can have consequences for the children later in life. It can affect not only self-confidence and appearance, but also the ability to get a decent job. Consultations with medical and dental organizations have indeed confirmed that a children’s dental clinic is a vital necessity for the community.

The two-room clinic, which is currently undergoing renovations, will be part of the Shravan Medical Center that serves 10,000 clients each year. It will be equipped with a dental chair,  dental apparatus and equipment, autoclave, x-ray machine, dental supplies, electricity back-up generator and a good water supply.

The Dental Clinic, which was designed in consultation with Dr. Darren Weiss and Dr. Aachal Devi of  the Humble Smile Foundation, will be staffed by a local dentist, a dental hygienist, an outreach coordinator (a community educator), and an administrative coordinator. GPM is also inviting dentists from around India and also around the world to volunteer at the clinic providing specialty services.

The "before" photo: Dr Darren Weiss, Dr Aachal Devi and Jacob Sztokman at the site of the  medical center that will house the Martha B Leigh Community Dental Clinic and the Shravan Health Centre
Renovations for the new Dental Clinic taking place end of August 2018

Israeli soldiers "Heroes for Life" volunteer with GPM

For the second year in a row, Heroes For Life (HFL), an group of recently-released IDF soldiers who are dedicated to "giving back" to vulnerable populations around the world, volunteered over the summer with GPM. The Israeli organization capitalizes on the many post-army adults who travel to
India every year and offers them a venue to volunteer and give back to vulnerable populations during their travels.

HFL participants taught in our classes in the slums and also they sent a cohort to the remote tribal village of Ashte where GPM operates a range of development programs. In Ashte, the HFL group taught GPM classes in government schools that are partnering with GPM ras well as in the GPM Love2Learn pre-school. Additionally, HFL took upon itself to renovate the GPM Preschool, paint its interior and exterior, and create educational materials for the students.

HFL participants also taught middle-school students at the GPM Joshua Greenberger Learning Center in the Kalwa slums and were introduced to GPM development initiatives in the slum community.

"The HFL volunteers are extremely passionate, hard working and well trained educationally before arriving in India" said Leron Kehimkar of GPM. "They add so much excitement to the classrooms the children love the innovative and fun way to learn."

"We had a great time volunteering in GPM’s centers," said Dafna Shamgar, HFL Coordinator. "We felt the meaning and importance of our stay every day when we came to classes and experienced how many wonderful things we could do together. We thank GPM for the opportunity and the cooperation that will continue."

Sunday, September 2, 2018

GPM distributes $18,000-worth of free medicines in the Kalwa slum

When Gabriel Project Mumbai opened the Shravan Health Center in August 2015 one of the main goals of the clinic was to provide discounted and free medicines and treatment alongside quality health care. 

Over three years of operation, GPM has distributed $18,000 worth of free and heavily discounted medicines to the residents of the Kalwa slums. These medicines, which include antibiotics, vaccines, antihistamines, pain killers and other essentials, were provided as part of the health care that doctors of the Shravan Health Center give the Kalwa community of 200,000 residents.

"Accessible quality healthcare is a human right," says GPM Founding Director Jacob Sztokman, "and we are so honored to be able to provide this service to the people of Kalwa."
"Manisha" came to GPM's Shravan Health Center for treatment. She suffers from chronic pain all over her body. The doctors prescribed several different medications to help with her manage the pain. Since this woman was unable to pay for them, they were given to her FREE of cost.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Kalwa women receive health advice from the new GPM gynecologist on staff at SHC

Over fifty women packed the main hall of the GPM Joshua Greenberger Learning Center (JLC) to participate in a Women's Health workshop run by Dr. Swetambari Thanawala, the Gynecologist on staff at the GPM Shravan Health Center. Dr. Thanawala is the first doctor in the neighborhood to specifically serve women's health needs, and the women have responded with eager enthusiasm.

The Women's Health workshop is part of a community health series run by GPM in cooperation with Doctors for You and the Thane Municipal Health Authorities as part of the GPM Shravan Health Center Outreach Program. The series aims to educate people in the neighborhood about ways to improve their health and wellbeing.
Eye examinations and workshop run by Doctors 4 You
in collaboration with the Indian Cancer Society at the SHC

Other workshops covered topics such as:
  • Oral hygiene
  • Cancer awareness
  • Womens health 
  • Vaccination programs and their benefits
  • General hygiene awareness
  • Eye Care
"I am thrilled to be able to provide community health initiatives," says GPM Founding Director Jacob Sztokman. "We are encouraged by the eagerness of the residents to come and learn about how to lead a more healthy lifestyle."

Women's Health workshop run by Dr. Swetambari Thanawala (GPM)

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 www.masalamamas.org 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

New OB/GYN and Pediatrician Dr. Swetambari Thanawala joins SHC Staff

Immunizations in collaboration with municipal health authorities

Dr. Swetambari Thanawala and patient part 
of the monthly GPM medical check up 
Dr. Swetambari Thanawala has joined the staff of the Shravan Health Center (SHC), the first doctor in the clinic to specialize in women's medicine.

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%. In addition, 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 the GPM 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
All this was good news. The evaluation also showed, however, that very few women came to the clinic for their own care, in particular for gynecological issues. This was because the doctors were male, and women were not comfortable seeking the medical care of male doctors in private issues. 

"In consideration of the fact that the SHC is meant for children and maternal care, this was a glaring loss," explains GPM Founding Director Jacob Sztoman. "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 recruited female OB/GYN and pediatrician Dr. Swetambari Thanawala, who began working in August.   

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

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 engages new educational partnership with Indian government

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: https://laurenhannahh.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/india

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

Of all the beautiful festivities in India, the most anticipated event for school-age children is Annual Day. A joyous celebration filled with  The GPM education program, Love2Learn, held a joyous and celebratory Annual Day last month with colorful performances, rhythmic music, and motivational speeches. Love2Learn schoolchildren displayed lively performances and received honors for their academic achievements. 

The Annual Day celebration began with the lighting of the lamp, a Hindi tradition marking the start of many celebrations in order to begin and end the day with an invocation of light. GPM Director Kenneth D'Souza delivered an inspirational speech that thank all of the supporters of GPM. Parents and friends enjoyed singing, dancing, and dramatic performances by 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 three best performances were awarded with group prizes. 

During the ceremony, the 'No Plastic Ashte' campaign 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 community 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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A meaningful Bar Mitzvah in the slums of Mumbai

Thirteen-year-old Yoni Levi wanted to do something significant for his bar mitzvah, something that demonstrated the meaning of being a caring person in the world. So he came to Mumbai, India – along with his father, Ben – where he spent time working in the Kalwa slum with children and the community, to advance education, clean water, and connect with the children in an meaningful way.

Yoni, a student at the Amit school ('Chomesh') in Raanana, Israel, contacted the JDC – a partner of Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM) - and conducted six important activities in preparation for and during his visit to the Kalwa slum.

Involving friends and family. Yoni arranged a good old-fashioned sports day where his school friends and family fund raised while enjoying team athletics competitions; including three-legged and sack races.

Teaching English the fun way. Yoni got some friends together to make “poses” out of the English letters. Yoni’s mother, Michele, who is a graphic artist, then turned these poses into a beautiful poster of the English alphabet that he put up in the GPM Love2Learn school in Kalwa. The children in the Love2Learn school then made a poster of their own, which Michele turned into a poster for the class in Yoni’s school in Raanana. The children had fun, learned English, and built a strong bond between themselves. The message here was that Yoni’s class and the love2Learn students worked together in a collaborative project; school children connecting and learning together!

Inaugurating a Safe Drinking Water delivery vehicle. The GPM Safe Drinking Water project in Kalwa that provides filtered and recycled water bottles to households in Kalwa needed a vehicle to deliver the water bottles. Many families in the slum are unable to carry the 20 liter filtered water bottles through the alleyways because of illness, pregnancy or disability. Yoni and his family decided to donate a vehicle for this purpose, which can hold 40 massive water bottles to deliver to families that are unable to retrieve the bottles themselves. This is a vital aspect of this program which will have a direct impact on people’s health and well-being in Kalwa. People in the slum need safe drinking water to ensure that they are not exposed to diseases and bacteria in the water. This vehicle makes the program widely accessible in the slum. Yoni and his dad also made the first two deliveries to a family whose father was infirm and a pregnant single mother.

Training kids to juggle. Yoni is an avid juggler and decided to share his favorite hobby with the kids of Love2Learn. He prepared sand and balloons in order to teach the children how to make their own juggling balls. Then he taught them the art of juggling. Today, you can see kids throughout the slum juggling colorful balls, adding fun, color, and liveliness to the community, thanks to Yoni!

Opening a 600-book library. Yoni and his family inaugurated a brand new library in the GPM Joshua Jacob Greenberger Learning Center. The library now has 600 books, which will serve the children in the center as well as all the children of the neighborhood.

Taking the GPM students on a museum excursion. Finally, on his last day in Mumbai, Yoni and his father took the kids on an excursion to a local science museum. Yoni and Ben joined JDC-GPM local interns in a 'Sunday-Funday'. A fun and educational day for everyone.

“We got to understand from the GPM staff that the real significance of Yoni’s visit and the collaborative project between schools was that the children in the slums feel that they are valued, something that is not a given with all the challenges they face living in extreme poverty", said Yoni’s mother Michelle. “This learning experience has been so meaningful to our family and Yoni.”

Yoni’s bar mitzvah visit was not only important for the kids in Kalwa. It was also significant for the kids in Yoni’s school, who now have a connection with kids in India, and a deepened understanding of our interconnected humanity. It also was a great learning experience for all. Yoni plans on staying in touch with the class, to continue to share ideas, posters, and tales of juggling.

Yoni's visit in an article in the Israeli paper Yediot Ahranot; 3 April 2018