Caring for vulnerable children living in the slums and villages of India

The Program

The Program

Gabriel Project Mumbai is partnering with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) to send Jewish young adults, ages 18-30, on a comprehensive two month (8 week) volunteer and learning program in Mumbai, India, through  the JDC Entwine Global Jewish Service Corps (JSC) program.  During the program, participants provide nutrition and literacy for children living in the slums, while becoming enriched by Jewish ethics in social justice, Indian culture and society. The program, which provides a kosher open and supportive Jewish environment for volunteers, revolves around daily food distribution in the slums, whilst filling the volunteers’ days with learning, cultural engagement, and touring Mumbai and its environs.

Gabriel Project Mumbai volunteers prepare and deliver daily hot midday meals to 24 learning centers throughout the Kalwa slum in Mumbai, each a class of 20-25 children, thus provide 500 slum children with regular nutritious meals. 

Volunteers work side-by-side with 160  members of local women's groups (8 kitchens) preparing the the children's daily nutritious meal. The local women operating in a micro-credit system, bring a lot of life and laughter to the cooking process! In addition, since the slums are technologically deficient, volunteers have easy ways to boost the children's learning with simple interaction around technology. Upon delivery of food, volunteers interact and play with the children and help with the teaching of English. Volunteers prepare lesson plans and use basic technology like laptops and Ipads.  The volunteers thus help stimulate and motivate the children’s learning while keeping their young tummies warm and full.

Mornings are spent preparing and packing the food for distribution with the local women's groups. Volunteers and local women carry the food to the Kalwa slums, walking through the winding alleyways of the slums and give out the food to the children, after spend some time playing and teaching English, Math or Science with the children. Once a semester there is a joint picnic outing for children and volunteers, probably the children’s only organized social event for the year.

The rest of the volunteers' time on the program is spent in classes, study and touring. There is free time to explore Mumbai, the second largest city in the world. Participants receive courses and workshops on social justice from a global and Jewish perspective, responsible volunteering, international development and global poverty as well as  basic Hindi/Marathi and Indian Jewish history. We will visit important landmarks, learn about Indian culture and meet with JDC professionals to gain a firsthand understanding of the accomplishments as well as the challenges facing the Indian Jewish community. 

The volunteer work week comprises of Mon-Fri volunteering in the slums from 8 am till 2 pm. Classes will take place 2-3 afternoons a week. Saturdays and Sundays are free days that may have  programming elements to them, including participation in local Synagogue activities, volunteering alongside local Indian Jewish young adults and visiting local Jewish homes to experience the lives of Jewish Indians.

During their stay, the volunteers travel to:

  • the villages on Konkan Coast to explore and learn about the fascinating history of the Bene Israel Jews who arrived in India over 2000 years ago
  • spend time with the Jewish community
  • tour South Mumbai's Jewish and general points of interest
  • visit 'Bayiti', a Jewish old age home run by the JDC
  • visit and give classes to children attending a tribal boarding school in a remote village

GPM will assist in volunteers' plans to visit other parts of India like Kochin, Goa, Delhi etc. (Travel outside of Mumbai has additional costs.)

The Volunteer Apartment

 The volunteer apartment is located in Thane, Nth Mumbai. A relatively large Jewish community boasts a lovely synagogue and community center, a 10 minute walk from the apartment. A large modern mall is a 7 minute auto-rickshaw ride away. The apartment's kitchen is kosher vegetarian with TV wifi and A/C. The apartment block has a doorman and there are banks, supermarkets, restaurants and hospitals nearby.

Important dates 2016-17

Spring Semester '16          March 1-April 5
Summer Semester '16       June14-Aug 9
Fall Semester '16             Nov 1-Dec 13
Winter Break '16-'17         Dec 22-Jan 10


Application criteria

This program is open to young Jewish adults from around the world, ages 18-30. Criteria include:

* Commitment to social justice
* Flexibility and openness to others
* Ability to handle working in adverse conditions
* Command of English
* Valid passport
Important to note: The living quarters are kosher and co-ed. They are also a smoke-free, drug-free and alcohol-free zones. 

Course of Study

Spoken Hindi/Maharathi. This course enables the program participants to communicate with the children in the slums using common words and phrases in local dialects; it really enhances the interaction with the children!

Social Justice in Jewish Tradition.GPM has introduced an exciting new learning component to the volunteer program in collaboration with the internationally renowned Jewish social justice organization TAKUM. GPM volunteers are studying a wide range of Jewish texts with world-renowned Jewish teachers of TAKUM who communicate from around the world via group Skype sessions.The course will cover issues of social justice and global responsibility from a Jewish perspective as well as studies in responsible volunteering, international development and global poverty.
Jewish History of India. This fascinating course given by a local scholar is complete with tales of second temple Jewish captives shipwrecked on the coast of India to a series of Spanish and Iraqi merchants who made India their home; a 2000 year odyssey in a land that has made its Jewish citizens very welcome.

Indian Culture.  India has both an ancient and captivating culture. This course provides a general overview of Indian culture, sociology, values, religious beliefs and history from both a national and regional perspective.  Occasionally participants will go on field trips to important cultural sites and experiences.

Seminars, Educational Workshops and Field Trips

To fully understand and experience the culture and Jewish history of India, we will be participating in a series of seminars, workshops and field trips.  Most of will be to important cultural sites in Mumbai with a weekend seminar in Sothe field trips uth Mumbai and Jewish history rich Konkan Coast

There will also be visits and meals with members of the local Jewish community, workshops and short seminars in Indian culture and social justice issues. We will participate in festivals and Shabbat with the local Jewish community and have free time to experience the fun side of Mumbai.  These seminars, workshops and outings are an integral part of the program experience.

For more information and to apply, email: 

Gabriel Project Mumbai is a JDC Entwine Global Multi-Week Jewish Service Corps (JSC) program: