“We saw a need and wanted to do something. We started educating the children.”
- Theresa Mersky
Staff from the
Our story begins in the late 1990’s India when a community was displaced in the middle of the night from Coimbatore City to an abandoned army barracks in rural Chettipalayam with no running water, electricity, plumbing or surrounding roads.
The community did not have a safety net of education or other resources to re-build upon; they faced discrimination based on their former caste status, had been denied education and were illiterate. There were no opportunities for employment in the area, and with no access to public transportation, they struggled to find a livelihood. People were living in a state of crisis with few resources for basic survival.
Over the next ten years, a nearby orphanage worker, Sunbeam Viswanathan, came to know the community’s residents and learned that none of the children were attending school, and many were in very poor health. Fearful for their future, Sunbeam teamed up with visiting Canadian educators Barbara Zeibotts, Barbara Galbraith and Theresa Mersky to build a quality school for the community.
Together they formed the Global Pathways School, with a founding principle to bring the highest standard of education to children and their families who had been denied this essential opportunity. In 2009, GPS opened its doors to 35 children who had never before been to school. From our humble beginnings in a matchbox factory with just two classrooms, today we are located on a 60,000-square-foot campus with complete amenities and over 550 students and 101 staff.
As we grew, we added healthcare and community development programs to target the barriers that many families living in multidimensional poverty face. In March 2020, GPS graduated its first class. Today, our 2020 and 2021 grads remain enrolled in post-secondary education to continue their growth. We have helped lift a community out of crisis by educating its children and providing them the highest standard of care and support. We are now a school with a unique model that is grounded in sustainable development for families to overcome poverty and thrive.