The Vision: Eat to learn
Young Jewish adults providing hunger relief and literacy to vulnerable children in India
The Gabriel Project Mumbai aims to provide a model of hunger relief in the slums of India by simultaneously alleviating hunger and promoting literacy.
The single most important tool for long-term alleviation of poverty is education. Unfortunately, constant hunger is also a tremendous barrier to education. instead of going to school, children as young as four-years-old are often sent to work in unhealthy jobs such as sewage cleaners and rag pickers, making a few rupees a day in order to purchase food. It's a matter of basic survival for their families. When there is no money for food, school comes last.
The GPM solution is simple and powerful: Eat to learn. GPM provides warm meals for children in the slums who enroll in local classes, thus providing immediate hunger relief while offering a real incentive for parents to send their children to learn. Working in partnership with REAP, a local NGO that provides education in the slums and works tirelessly to encourage parents to send their children to class, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the world’s largest Jewish humanitarian aid organization, GPM volunteers prepare and deliver daily warm meals along with local women's businesses, providing meals in school for the schoolchildren-aged 4-12. The prospect of a daily warm nutritious meal for all children attending classes not only creates warm bellies, but also increases attendance rates and improves children's health and cognitive development. It satisfies children, parents, and teachers, and the children learn reading, writing, science and math. The "Eat to Learn" approach is changing the trajectory of children's lives.
Since GPM began in 2012, there has been a 50% increase in attendance in REAP classes.
The vision emerges from a strong Jewish ethical drive to advance social justice and alleviate human suffering. There are several key Jewish principles have influenced the development of the Gabriel Project Mumbai:
The Jewish ethos. Jewish laws, traditions and moral teachings encourage Jews to provide relief for the poorest members of society. All four sides of the patriarch Abraham’s tent were open, for example, so that he could readily tend to people in need at all times. The giving of tzedaka (charity) is a driving force of all Jewish communities around the world. Yet, Judaism teaches not only to give but also to enable. GPM feeds the poorest of children while enabling them acquire a basic education which will empower them to break the cycle of poverty.
Empathy for the vulnerable. Many Jewish communities inthe world are thriving. The Jewish State, international Jewish organizations and Jewish groups are well organized in looking after the needs of the Jewish people. Although there is still a lot of important work being done, overall the Jewish community is looking after itself and the needs of its members. That was not always the case, and 70 years ago a third of the Jewish people were decimated because-in a large part-communities around the world remained bystanders to human suffering and pain. From this history, the Jewish people have particular sensitivity to human suffering, and pressing mission to get involved and to care. When faced with extreme poverty and illiteracy in the slums of Mumbai, the Jewish people have a responsibility to step in and take action.India’s warm relationship with the Jewish people. The Jewish people have been at home in India for 2000 years. The ‘Bnei Israel’ are said to originate from the ten tribes of Israel and were joined by other groups of Jews who made their home in India throughout the past 20 centuries. While the Jewish people wandered around the world facing violence and hatred, in India Jews have been welcomed and integrated. There has been virtually no anti-Semitism over two millennia, and Jews have prospered and enjoyed their stay in India. Projects such as ours are an important way that Jews can continue to foster the mutually warm relationship between our communities; working together to promote human rights and fight extreme poverty.