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