Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This is how we cook!

Here we are working with local women’s groups to prepare food for the children. It took some time for us to get used to sitting on the floor to cook and working with traditional utensils and materials. The women are introducing us to some beautiful, exotic Indian culinary methods, using a wide range of spices such as mustard seed, coriander, turmeric, curry, cardamom, masala fresh chili, and more. When the chili cooks in the pot we all start to cough as the air is full of the spicy steam.

The most labor intensive work was when we made chapati, a bread that looks and feels like a 'lafa' large pita like) bread you get in Israel. We cooked 150 chapati's from scratch, preparing the dough, making balls that need to be rolled and then placing the flattened dough on a lightly oiled pan for a few minutes. The women were real experts making perfectly round chapatis; ours didn't come out as uniform but we gave it our best shot! 

The women put a lot of love and care into the cooking, using flavors and ingredients that they know the children will enjoy. Even though none of the women in our group have kids young enough to go to our classrooms, they put extra care to add more vegetables, more spices, more love for the children living in their neighborhood.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Doing the Hokey Pokey!

Today's lesson included GPM volunteers teaching the Hokey Pokey to the kids of Mumbai. This is not only a lot of fun, but a great way to learn important words in English – body parts, movement, prepositions (in, out, around), and more. Its so much fun to see the little kids twirling and shaking their bodies all the while giggling and having a blast!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sigalith teaching kids English using chalk and slates (yes, slates)

Sigalith is helping teach the kids ABCs using very traditional methods of chalk and slates. Kids are learning their English letters, the building blocks for writing and reading. The kids love when Sigalith and GPM volunteers teach them English, and Sigalith especially loves working with the kids. Knowing English is an important element of education in Mumbai and it helps the children in the slums by opening doors for them to further their education and improve their chances of improving their standard of living. This is yet another example of how GPM and REAP have built a win-win model, in which everyone benefits. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Moments - Jacob Sztokman

On this post I would like to share two moments that touched me on our first and second day's volunteering in the slums of Kalwa, North Mumbai.

Moment 1: After assisting in the preparation of food for a mid-day meal for about 50 children, GPM volunteers began to distribute the food to children aged 4-10 who were attending classes run in the slums. Leora, one of the volunteers had just placed a ladle full of rice, vegetables and dahl into a 5 yr old girls' lunch box. The girl then closed the lunch box and placed it behind her while all the other children began eating. Sigalith, our coordinator asked the girl why she wasn't eating and the girl replied that she was taking the rice back to her parents and siblings so that they could eat.

Moment 2: An older mentally challenged girl began to cry when the teachers asked the children to sit down just before the food was being distributed. After the teacher asked the girl why she was crying, she replied that she felt very bad that she was eating while her mother and sister back home didn't have any food (father had past away).

These moments were deeply emotional ones for me. Here were a small 5 year old girl, and a mentally challenged girl with heightened emotions --both obviously hungry -- who could only think of their family members who were also hungry. These and other bitter-sweet moments reassure me of the importance of our cause and the love that exists in the most trying of places.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

GPM volunteers providing hot lunches for the children

GPM volunteers help deliver and serve hot meals of chapati (large pita's) rice, vegetables, dahl, sprouts, fruit to 500 schoolchildren in the Mumbai slums. The class rooms are run by REAP, a grass-roots NGO that is working to combat poverty by promoting literacy among the poorest, youngest members of the Mumbai community. These marginalized groups would otherwise send their children to work in order to provide money for basic food. GPM, by providing hot meals to the kids who go to school, offers a powerful incentive for parents to send their children to school instead of to work. This is a win-win solution, providing immediate relief for hunger and poverty within the context of promoting literacy – because the real long-term solution to poverty is in education. GPM is thrilled to be able to partner with REAP (www.reapchild.org) on this really important project. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Kitchen: Where Indian women and GPM volunteers prepare food for the children in school

GPM is working with local women’s groups to prepare hot, nutritious meals for 500 Indian schoolchildren in the Mumbai slums every day.  One of the volunteers, Leora, is learning to prepare dahl, vegetables and rice.



Monday, June 18, 2012

Indian women welcome GPM volunteers

In this picture, Indian women representatives of the Kalwa neighborhood of Mumbai (adjacent to the Kalwa slums) welcomed the new volunteers in a Hindu ceremony for luck and success, which includes giving flowers, candies and a traditional red spot in the space between the eyes. Here the volunteers work alongside local women to prepare food for children learning in slum class rooms. The volunteers are continuously grateful for the women's' warmth, kindness and camaraderie. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Visit to Yeeor National Park

Yeoor is a naturally beautiful and pollution free area carpeted by natural foliage and fauna.
Yeoor , home to about 78 known species of birds and about 12 different species of animals has the highest density of leopards in India. Volunteers enjoyed a drizzly day in Yeoor National Park, where they saw the local flora and fauna: monkeys, wild buffalo, kingfisher birds, crabs (thankfully, no leopards).