Monthly Archives :

April 2018

Deidre Pujols India Visit

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Recently, the Open Gate International team received an invitation from Vision Rescue to travel to Mumbai, India in an effort to explore possibilities of helping vulnerable populations in that city.

Upon our arrival, we were met with the warmest of greetings and were treated to the highest levels of hospitality during our entire stay. The beautiful people of India welcomed us with open arms and we thoroughly enjoyed our brief, but fruitful time with them.

Even though we saw the deepest levels of poverty and a lack of basic needs being met in the poorest parts of the the city, we also saw determination and commitment in the eyes of the residents in those communities. The resiliency of these people and their refusal to accept things the way they are sparked the entrepreneurial pioneering spirit in our Founder/CEO Deidre Pujols.

Deidre Pujols and Biju Thampy of Vision Rescue

After several days of site visits, meetings and collaboration, two much-needed projects between Vision Rescue and Open Gate International were launched. These two simple solutions when implemented fully will dramatically improve the lives of those living in the most desperate of circumstances in Mumbai. More information about how you can support these new endeavors will be available soon.

In a country where so many are marginalized, especially women and young girls, it is our hope to come alongside these vulnerable populations to bring encouragement and a new beginning towards a brighter future.

We also had the privilege of spending time with our friends at the International Justice Mission offices in Mumbai as well as attending their Human Trafficking Conference while we were there.

Deidre Pujols and IJM Mumbai Field Office Director, Sanjay Macwan

We were amazed at the extensive work IJM is doing and we applaud their commitment to getting justice for victims of human trafficking in that region of the world.

Then it was on to Thailand to celebrate the launch of the “Can You See Me?” campaign with our friends at A21.

We are so proud to come alongside this powerful organization as they continue to fight human trafficking on a massive global scale.

Deidre Pujols and Biju Thampy of Vision Rescue, Christian Elliott of A21 at the “Can You See Me?” Campaign launch in Thailand

Our last stop was Phnom Penh, Cambodia where our own Global Chef, Brent Southcombe met with Agape International Missions to assist them in the layout of their new kitchen space and identify equipment needs to facilitate their future culinary arts program.

We look forward to the possibility of welcoming AIM’s chef for an 8-week internship here in the US in order for her to work alongside Chef Brent in OGI’s existing Culinary Arts Program. Upon completion of her internship, Chef Brent would return to Cambodia with her to insure the successful launch of their new program.

Youth Culinary Training and Prevention Program in Antonesti, Moldova

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What an exciting day!

A week before Christmas, the first graduating class of the Youth CulinaryTraining Program in Antonesti Moldova came to the capital city of Chisinau for a celebration. Their trainers, Diana and Olga, brought the girls on the 2-hour journey into the city. We met upat Smokehouse, an American-style barbeque restaurant that graciously accepted our request totake a kitchen tour and talk to their chef and manager, all while eating some great (and culturally interesting) food.

One of the owners of Smokehouse was there to greet the girls and give them a very important talk. He discussed doing business in Moldova without corruption, going after dreams, and working hard with complete integrity. He also introduced the newest chef and restaurantmanager – a woman! She took the girls through her kitchen. What a great example of awoman, at age 21, doing something professionally that she loved. She shared her thoughts about work and that it should be something a person is passionate about. She encouraged thegirls to study something that truly interests them, set goals, and go after them!

Indeed – girls and women are heroes.

The group, after eating a table full of barbeque, decided to do some ice skating in the city’s center. Smiles, hugs, and heaps of gratitude were shared as they prepared for their trip back tothe village – after some hot chocolate of course.

The girls were so determined to stay in contact with their trainers that they signed up to do the Technovation Challenge and are now beginning a second semester in the program, learning tocreate an application for cell phones that helps to solve a problem in their community. These ladies can cook and now they are learning to code for change! There is truly nothing they cannot do!

The next 6 culinary students began their cooking journey in February. More on their progressto come this Spring.

To learn more about the worldwide Technovation Challenge, please visit:

A big thank you to the ladies and gentlemen over at Smokehouse in Chisinau!