Sunday, September 18, 2016

GPM opens new English-language preschool in remote rural village of Ashte

GPM opened the first preschool serving the children of the remote rural village of Ashte in the Palghar district of Maharashtra this week. The preschool, which has 30 students for its first cohort, marks the first time that this village of 850 people has access to a preschool.

“The Ashte village leaders approached us earlier this year and asked us to provide a preschool for them,” explains GPM Director Jacob Sztokman. “They saw what amazing things we accomplished in our first year of Love 2 Learn, the schooling network that we established for the villages in the

Dahanu region, and they wanted us to include them, too. So we responded with a resounding ‘Yes’.”

GPM opened the Love 2 Learn primary-school network in 2015, initially with 20 classes, one in each of 20 remote, impoverished and underserved villages in the region. The residents of Ashte, which is one of the most remote villages – several hours’ drive from the nearest city – also asked if the school could be in English rather than the state language of Maharati or even their tribal dialect. The villager residents, who are primarily land owner farmers and landless members of the Konkana tribe, wanted to ensure that their children receive the finest education possible, on par with schools in Mumbai and Delhi.

“It is incredible that this is their aspiration,” Mr. Sztokman added. “Education is so hard to come by at all in this area, but they are not satisfied with basic education. They want English literacy, they want high quality, they want to have equal opportunities for their children. And they have entrusted GPM network.”

Village residents not only took the initiative of bringing GPM’s Love 2 Learn to their village. They also secured a suitable structure for the classroom, which they painted and landscaped with flora that they know their children would love. A tailor from the village also offered to make uniforms for all the children. 

GPM hired a local teacher, Ms. Anjana Thorat, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from an Indian university. Due to the lack of educational facilities in the region, Ms. Thorat had been unable to work in her field as the Ashte village is remote and opportunities rare. Now, with the opening of the pre-school, she is able to remain in her community while working in her field. And the children, in turn, benefit from having a highly qualified professional from their own tribe. It is a win-win model for the school and for the community, and keeps the talent local.

Ms. Thorat will be aided by assistant teacher Ms. Geeta Dhangda, also a community member,  who studied commerce in English at a local college.

The teachers’ desk was painted in the style of the famous Warli tribal art by a local artist, Mr Ramesh Mirka. The desk, along with all the other furniture, was donated by ORT India, a Jewish educational and training organization that supports non-sectarian economic and social development.

The opening ceremony for the school, which took place this week, was attended by parents, children, GPM staff, and local dignitaries. The district doctor, Dr. Pravin Rathod, was honored as “Chief Guest”, and ceremoniously opened the preschool. The opening ceremony began with the official breaking of the coconut, an Indian custom for good luck, by Mr Devram Jadhav a village elder.   Raju Chaudrri , representing the parents spoke at the ceremony as well as: Mr. Pravin Gawli, - member of the Dahnu local govt committee (Panchayat), Mrs Tara Sathe- Sarpanch of the local govt of 3 village group, Mrs Deepa Jadhav- Deputy Sarpanch of 3 village groups, Mr. Sakharam Jadhav- Forest officer, Mr. Bhanya Jadhav- Police officer of Ashte village and Mr. Vijay Jadhav of the Adivasi Forest department.

“It’s a great privilege at Gabriel Project Mumbai to run the Ashte English preschool,” said GPM Program Director Kenneth DSouza at the ceremony. “Our goal is to provide high-quality English education to your children to give them the tools and knowledge for them to excel throughout their schooling."

"We will strive for the best pedagogic curriculum so that your children will have the same level of English education as children in schools in Mumbai in Delhi. We are excited to work together in this endeavor, and thank you for your trust", said Thaiza Dias, Program Manager of the Love2Learn program  at GPM.

After the ceremony, the teacher and assistant teacher sat with GPM teaching staff for their first
training before classes begin tomorrow.

The Ashte English Preschool is sponsored by the Global Mitzvah Project of Temple Emanual, Kensington, Maryland

Thursday, September 15, 2016

GPM volunteer alum, Emily Weinstein, and the making of the GPM film

The video highlighting Gabriel Project Mumbai's development work in the slums of Mumbai was
created by GPM – Entwine alum, Emily Weinstein. Emily volunteered with GPM as a JDC Entwine fellow in the Spring of 2015 and taught informal education and English in classes in the Kalwa slums after graduating from Fordham University in New York. At Fordham Emily studied anthropology, international development and visual arts.

After traveling India for a month after the GPM-Entwine program, Emily returned  to the US but travelled to Mumbai  to work with GPM as Development Coordinator in August 2015 as she felt a connection to Mumbai and the strong impact of the work she was doing with GPM.

Emily's passion of film and photography and her love of India led her to work on a
View the GPM Video by clicking the image above
Bollywood/South Indian film in Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. Later she returned to Mumbai to work with cinematographer Harshbir Singh and then began working as a director's assistant at a Bollywood production firm.

Recently, feeling the need to get back to social causes, Emily and Harshbir decided to form a company focusing on human interest documentaries and social narrative films and  they started a business together - Bombay Arthouse. After finishing the GPM clip Emily said, "we are looking forward to pursuing many more projects with GPM, and we are so thrilled by the overwhelming positive response the film has been receiving."

The GPM film was made possible by an anonymous donor and by an OLAM 'In Motion Subsidy' to help promote OLAM coalition partners' development work around the world.
Emily during the filming

Harshbir on site of the filming

Thursday, August 18, 2016

One year anniversary of the Shravan Health Center in the slums of Mumbai

Gabriel Project Mumbai celebrated the one year anniversary of the Shravan Health Center in the Bhaskar Nagar slums. This was a very emotional and significant milestone for the clinic that caters to a population of 200,000 people in the slum.
Dr Alfred, Dr Kamran (DFY), Kenneth Dsouza
and Anju Mishra

The guest speaker at the anniversary celebrations was the Founder and Managing Director of Bethany Hospital, Dr. Stephen Alfred. His blessings for continued success of the Shravan Health Center were heartwarming. Elijah Jacob and staff from JDC India were also present as well as doctors and nursing staff of Doctors For You. But the greatest part of the occasion were the women, men and children of the neighborhood who came to celebrate THEIR community health center!

At the event GPM's latest health initiative was launched – malnutrition treatment program for babies diagnosed with acute malnutrition. See more HERE
Listening to a nutrition lecture for parents

The event also recognized the following accomplishments of the clinic over the year:
A medical survey and community health map of over 7000 families in the slums
A medical outreach program for bedridden and incapacitated individuals in the slums
The treatment of 12,000 individuals over the year
The implementation of night hours for working parents to bring their children
Subsidized onsite pharmacy (including free medicines)
Vaccination services in partnership with municipal authorities
Recognition as the only TB DOTS treatment center for cases of tuberculosis
Nutrition program for malnourished children

Thanks to all our supporters for making the Shravan Health Center such an important life-saving initiative for this underserved community.

To help support the Shravan Health Center, please donate HERE or contact us at GPM –

Containers of 'Hyderabad Mix' high protien/vitamin nutrition

Celebrating 1 year: Shravan Health Center

Enterance to the Shravan Health Center

Kids at the event

Outside the Shravan Health Center

Launching Naya Women’s Paper Recycling Business in Mumbai slums

We are thrilled to launch a new women’s empowerment program that is not only sustainable but also good for the environment.
Ribbon cutting  at the launch of Naya 

Naya is a new innovative, grassroots paper recycling initiative aimed at empowering women to improve their community environment in the Mumbai slum of Kalwa. Naya, which means “new” in Hindi and which is run and implemented by women in the slums under GPM supervision, takes waste paper and turns it into paper products such as notepads, printing paper, coasters. The women employed in the initiative are locally trained in recycling waste paper and creating beautiful new pieces using imagination and skill.

Sales of these products will support the initiative, as well as develop facilities and awareness around waste and recycling within the slum. The recycled-paper products are sold to local offices, hotels and businesses.

The project, launched on 10 August 2016,  supports the community, cleans up the area, and promotes eco-friendly business. It is a sustainable social enterprise, empowering local women who also become ambassadors for recycling and cleanliness in the slum, improving the lives of the 200,000 people currently living in Kalwa.
The program was developed by Pears-JDC fellow Adit Goshalk from the UK.
Outside the Naya workshop in
Bhaskar Nagar, Kalwa slum

Adit, 29, joined GPM as a Pears sponsored JDC fellow for the year and worked half of the time with JDC and half of the time with GPM. Her passions are Art and development work, and she is an artist and art teacher in a Jewish school the UK. She has held many education related positions in development including a previous stint in Jaipur India and programs at Tzedek UK.

After months of speaking with people in the local community and working with GPM-JDC Entwine volunteers in the slums as part of her fellowship, she has combined these two passions of art and development to create the unique Naya program. The program takes two major challenges – women’s empowerment and environment – and combines them with a huge dollop of creativity. Scraps of paper are converted by women to develop useable products for sale to local businesses. The business has th potential to be self-sustaining and scalable, a fantastic model of socially—conscious business.

"My experiences this year in India and my work with the children and adults in the UK have shown me the powerful potential that the arts can have to make positive change", said Adit. "The Naya initiative brings together creativity and development, making something new and beautiful from what was once waste while empowering women to improve their lives and those within their community. I am thrilled to see the impact that we have had already and I cannot wait to continue this progress!"

GPM received initial funding from Paperback (a London-based, recycled paper supplier) to start the
At the Naya launch, 10 August 2016 with GPM staff,
representatives of  JDC India and Naya employees
project and has already received three small orders for products from a hotel and local businesses.
However, we need your help to get Naya fully sustainable by the end of 2018.

The program costs only about $450/month [Total: $8,500]
Please help support Naya by donating here:

Recycled paper drying

Treating waste paper and creating quality recycled paper

Sign outside Naya's new workshop

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

GPM’s new JDC Entwine Summer 2016 fellows, now volunteering in the slums of Mumbai!

This GPM cohort is unique in that all 7 of the volunteers hail from the East Coast of the United States. Aliza, Ari, Andrew, Rachel, Tamara, Aryeh and Leora will spend two months providing literacy and nutrition support to children in the slums of Mumbai.

Here is a glimpse into the participants of the current GPM-JDC Entwine volunteer session:

Leora Huebner
Leora Huebner
Leora Huebner just finished her freshman year at Princeton. She is from Manhattan and went to Ramaz High School. She loves to play piano and sing, and sings in (and manages) Koleinu, Princeton's only Jewish acapella group. Though she has not yet declared her major, Leora will probably major in computer science. She also loves traveling and working with other people.

Rachel Markowitz

Rachel Markowitz
This year Rachel is abroad studying Judaism and Zionism in Jerusalem. Her studies have further opened her heart and committed her to the Jewish idea of Tikkun Olam- being responsible for those around you and making the world a better place. In one word, Rachel can best be described as an
optimist. Her view on the world is that everything has the potential to be changed for the better and improved from its current state. Rachel spent her summer volunteering in a children’s home in Israel and in a day camp for children with special needs. Throughout the year she volunteered in a hospital visiting the sick in her free time.

Ari Marder

Ari Marder
Ari Marder is a senior at Yeshiva University studying psychology with a minor in business. Upon graduation he plans to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector, where he hopes to utilize his creativity and energy to help positively impact those in need. In his extracurricular life Ari spends much of his time volunteering inside and outside the Jewish community venturing to gain a fuller understanding of the struggles of others and how to best address their needs. His other interests include intramural basketball, ukulele (he is average at best) and acting in the Yeshiva College Dramatics Society (he played the lead role in “A Few Good Men”).

Lisa Peyser
Lisa Peyser

Lisa realized that she wanted to be a teacher the first time she stood in front of a class of children as an intern at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The responsibility of saying something to a group of eager, curious and impressionable children was humbling and unbelievable. After graduating from Barnard College. Lisa trained to be a teacher at the Bank Street School for Children, receiving a degree in Middle School Special and General Education. She worked in the middle school at Yeshivat Noam in New Jersey teaching both English and History. In July of 2014, Lisa became a founding teacher at The Shefa School, a school for children with language based learning disabilities. Lisa strives to create a classroom environment where students are active partners in their learning. The creative process of creating curriculum and projects which can meet the needs of all types of learners is one of Lisa’s favorite parts of this career. Lisa spends her summers in Israel and recently spent the summer teaching Israeli children English reading and creative writing.

Andrew Hirsh

Andrew Hirsh
Andrew is a student at Wesleyan University pursuing a major in History with certificates in International Relations and Social, Cultural, Critical Theory. Andrew speaks German fluently having studied German language and culture for the past two years. Andrew is involved with the Wesleyan Refugee Project where he assists refugees that seek to repatriate to the United States and he is an Eco Facilitator on campus in which he help improve environmental consciousness and sustainable development at Wesleyan. Andrew also volunteers with Eye-to-Eye, a Non-Profit created to help children learn to cope with learning disabilities.

Tamara Teplow 

Tamara Teplow
Tamara Teplow graduated from Ma'ayanot Yeshiva High School in June, 2016 and will attend Stern College in the fall. This year she is studying at Midreshet Harova, a seminary in the old city of Jerusalem. Tamara has a long history of working with children. She was a head counselor at FluteStars day camp at the JCC of Tenafly for two consecutive years in which she worked with children on an individual basis as well as leading group classes, teaching music theory and flute technique. Tamara is a fashion blogger who publishes weekly blogs that highlight her artistic fashion shoots. She dresses the models, organizes the shoots, and photographs the models. Last year she organized a fashion show at her local mall in response to the earthquake in Nepal, raising over 10 thousand dollars for the cause.

Aryeh Gold

Aryeh Gold
Aryeh Gold is completing Queens College with a major in neuroscience. For most of his life he dreams of becoming a doctor. His motivation rooted in his genuine desire to provide direct care to those in need. This desire manifested at an early age of 16 when he became a certified EMT and volunteered on an ambulance corp for the following 5 years. Aryeh was a counselor for special needs children in a sleep away camp and after the summer continued  to work on the weekends at a group home for adults with special needs. Aryeh enjoys making connections with people and tries to make a real impact on their lives.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pioneering malnutrition intervention through women's empowerment program

Twenty women of the Kalwa slum began special training this week in learning to prepare the National Institute of Nutrition-recommended “Hyderabad Mix”, a special combination of food and nutrients that is used to treat severe and acute malnutrition in babies.  The Hyderabad Mix is a powerful, locally-made, protein/vitamin-based food specifically designed to treat malnourished children.

This program is a targeted intervention by Doctors for You working the GPM Shravan Medical Center, who have encountered over 300 cases of moderate, severe and acute malnutrition in children under the age of five. The doctors have recommended the Hyderabad Mix, which is also recommended by the National Institute of Nutrition, as the most efficient and effective way to alleviate malnutrition in children at these crucial ages.  Clinical research has shown that a three-month, doctor-supervised treatment with the Hyderabad Mix alleviates the symptoms of acute malnutrition and helps send children under the age of 5 on their way to a healthy, thriving life.

"As the initial few years are very critical for overall development of a child. In the present scenario, we are excited about the impact GPM will have for malnourished children”, says Dr. Naresh Gill, Assistant Director of Programming at Doctors for You.
Getting familiar with the ingredients of the Hyderabad Mix

The women, who have been involved in food preparation for GPM children for the past four years, are part of a women’s economic empowerment group in the Kalwa slums.  Until now, the women have been responsible for preparing daily, hot nutritious meals for 500 children learning in classes in the Kalwa slum. With this new initiative, the women will be adding the Hyderabad Mix to their daily outputs.

The Hyderabad Mix uses powerful ingredients such as 'Sattu, a mixture of Bengal gram, ground nuts jiggery and skimmed milk fortified by Vitamin A.

“You can imagine how malnutrition affects infants.Without basic proteins, vegetables, vitamins and minerals, these beautiful children are at risk of stunted physical and emotional development, chronic disease, weakened immune systems from iron deficiencies, irreversible brain lesions and thyroid problems from iodine deficiencies, blindness from Vitamin A deficiencies, and even death.” explained GPM Founding Director Jacob Sztokman. " The beauty of this program is that it is a community based, women's empowerment program that literally 'feeds' into a targeted community nutrition program!
The women being trained by Ms Shobha from Doctors For You

The intervention, which costs $65 per child per year and has been sponsored by The Good People Fund, The Estelle Friedman Gervis Family Foundation and by many donations of people who care about this project. This emergency program is replicable in other slum areas rife with malnutrition among children.  The program will initially start with 80 children and gradually build up to 300 by the end of the year.

To support this ongoing program, go to

GPM wins prestigious award in Child Welfare and Women Empowerment in India

Gabriel Project Mumbai won a prestigious Award of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Journal's Social Welfare and Growth (SWAG) under the category of Women Empowerment and Child Welfare. The award acknowledges the vital impact of the Love2Learn program for education among the remote rural poor in the Palghar village region outside of Mumbai.

“We acknowledge the efforts provided for a better understanding of the on-ground problems and pro-actively encourage your work towards attaining effective results,” Anuradha Devnani of the CSR Journal said in congratulating the GPM team.

Over 500 people attended the event including corporate leaders,  well known philanthropists, members of the Bollywood industry and former ministers of the Indian government.

Love2Learn is a new educational program opened in 2015 in the Western Maharashta state of India that serves 600 students ages 5-10 in 24 villages. This program, which was created by GPM educational staff in collaboration with government educational institutions and staff, uses a holistic approach to development, innovative pedagogies, and a fun, student-centered atmosphere of foundational learning. The Love2Learn program is the first integrated and comprehensive development project in the region, based on the GPM strategy of the “Triad of Children’s Development” – that is, children need a simultaneous combination of education, health and nutrition support in order to end the cycle of poverty.

Love2Learn provides schooling, with an emphasis on language literacy, math and performing arts, as well as technologically-based interactive English teaching through e-learning. The program also offers the GPM signature “Eat to learn” program, in which every student receives a fresh, hot meal when she or he attends school, a strategic approach to children’s poverty has been endorsed by former US President Bill Clinton, because it ensures that children will have the nutritional boosts that they need in order to learn and develop. Love2Learn also provides a Mobile Health Unit with medical personnel that visit the villages every day. They provide check-ups, vaccinations, preventive care, hygiene education supported by Sundara and Humble Smile Foundation, and follow-up care.

“By attending to all three aspects of the child’s needs simultaneously, Love2Learn fights poverty and child labor while caring for the literacy, health and nutrition needs of the children – the vital components that the children need to thrive,” said GPM Program Director Kenneth Desouza.

“We have worked very hard and in collaboration with leading educational experts in order to ensure that the children receive a high-quality education in an atmosphere that fully respects them and their social and cultural surroundings,” added Love2Learn Director Thaiza Dias.

“We are very grateful to the CSR Journal for giving us this award,” said GPM Founding Director Jacob Sztokman who received the award from Former DGP, Karnataka, Dr. Jija Hari Singh “It is a strong confirmation that we are on the right path in helping end the cycle of poverty among India’s remote rural poor children. This is a very important milestone for all of us.”  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

GPM Welcomes Audrey Trachtman to the GPM Board of Directors

Gabriel Project Mumbai is excited to welcome Mrs. Audrey Axelrod Trachtman to the GPM Board of
Directors. Audrey is a known as a donor who uses her expertise in finance and strategic planning to further causes she believes in. She is a member of the executive Board of JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist alliance where she has served as Treasurer. Vice President of Advocacy and Vice President of Programming. She was Conference Chair of the 2002 and 2008 International Conferences.

Audrey was Vice President of Finance and Strategic Planning for Philip Morris and General Foods Latin America and recipient of the YWCA Women of Achievement Award. She is a CPA and received an MBA from the Wharton School.

Audrey is also a member of the Executive Board of Amit Children, an educational network in Israel that provides cutting edge academic programs to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. She currently serves as the Vice President of Strategic Planning.

Audrey has served on the Board of her local synagogue and is a founder of the Kol Echad partnership minyan in New Rochelle.

Audrey and her husband Dr Chaim Trachtman volunteered with GPM in early this year.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Love2Learn Village Education Program celebrates its first year anniversary

A thousand people gathered in April to celebrate the completion of the first year of the GPM Love2Learn village educational initiative. The festive “Annual Day” occasion, an inaugural celebration that was attended by teachers, students, families and dignitaries, included award presentation of four “Best Teacher” awards, recognition of local government educational support, a keynote address from Dr. Rathod, the Head of the District Government medical services, and performances by the children.
The GPM Love2Learn  educational initiative provides schooling to children in 20 villages in the Palghar district north of Mumbai. Love2Learn partners with local community resources in providing groundbreaking rural education, accessible health care and vital nutrition program to 500 children in 20 underserved villages. In the coming school year, the program will be expanding by 20% to serve 600 children.

"Children, you have a terrific opportunity with the Love2Learn program and GPM to expand your academic horizons, grow healthy and achieve many great things." Dr Rathod said, speaking directly to the children. "With the tools available to you now, you can acquire knowledge and contribute back to your village communities and the district".

Twenty different groups of children from the Adivasi  (Warli) Tribe, a historically neglected and marginalized sector, gave outstanding drama, dance, and musical performances.

“The performances were beautiful, and an incredible achievements for these wonderful children,” said GPM Love2Learn Director Thaiza Dias. “This was the first time that these tribal children performed on stage in front of their teachers and parents. The beautifully colorful and entertaining performances are indicative of the amazing progress the children and their dedicated teachers have achieved in only just one year. It was a very proud moment for all of us.” 

Residents of the Shilonda villages face many educational, medical, nutritional and financial challenges. This GPM initiative, in collaboration with Adavasi Vikas Kendra, Sundara and Humble Smile Foundation, helps bolster the children’s educational opportunities by offering them innovative development initiatives and progressive learning pedagogies. The program also offers advanced farming education for adult members of the community, small-holder farmers in the district.

Four teachers received “Best Teachers” award: Ms. Nita Dhangda and Mr. Anil Mahala  received “Teacher of Excellence in All round Performance”. Ms. Kamal Rayat and Ms Harshada Savar  received “Best teacher in Academics”. These local teachers have played an invaluable role in advancing the children’s success.

“We look forward to expanding the Love2Learn program to other undeserved villages” said GPM Founding Director  Jacob Sztokman. “We aim to deepen the impact ‬on the welfare of the children and the entire community next year and years to come.”
Love2Learn Annual Day banner

Some of the Love2Learn teachers singing to the children

A tribal dance performance

A skit by one of the classes about the environment

A great pic of some of the children and GPM staff

Everyone dance!

Unofficial 'after party'