Mumbai is home to 22 million people, and over 70% live in slums, many which have limited access to electricity, clean water, food, and basic education. On the border of Mumbai, Kalwa is a sprawling slum characterized by endemic poverty. It has become the home of many migrant populations from the villages in the province of Mumbai, Maharashtra, and in the northern provinces, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that are predominantly Hindu (Maharashtrians and Biharis) and Muslim.
Life in the slum is a challenging existence. Children’s schooling is often put off as parents struggle to balance the immediate needs for family survival over the need of a child to grow, develop, and study. Families in Kalwa live in highly critical circumstances and face daunting challenges to their health. Environmental factors, such as lack of access to water and dental services, and local harmful habits in oral self-care practices, the consumption of sugary foods and beverages, and tobacco usage, are important factors that put their health status at risk. Tooth decay, the major oral health concern of the inhabitants, causes severe pain and suffering among both children and adults. Poor oral health leads to adults losing days of work and to children losing days at school and difficulty concentrating.
Established in 2015, the Healthy School project is an ongoing intervention in strong collaboration with Gabriel Project Mumbai, a grassroots organization of Kalwa that caters to 5000 households in the region.
Humble teams up with GPM’s ‘Eat to Learn’ nutritional program, making school a more attractive alternative to resist the pressure on children to work, allowing them to grow, develop and build a different life.
Local educators are trained as Humble Smile Fellows, qualified to sustainably promote oral health in schools.
The project extends to 20 villages upstate, where the children have never heard of a dentist, and don’t have their own toothbrush.
The bad news is that most of the kids had decayed teeth with no option for treatment. The good news is that they get a second chance at prevention with the eruption of their permanent teeth, thanks to Humble Smile Foundation’s Gabriel Smiles Healthy Schools Program, our partners Gabriel Project Mumbai, and our sponsors The Humble Co.