Gem Munro was introduced by Lew Bertrand. Gem, a Canadian, has devoted his life and career to improving educational opportunities for disadvantaged people in Canada and abroad. He is a Founder (with his wife and 4 children) and Director of Amarok Society, a Canadian charity providing educational programs to the very poor in Bangladesh. He has written a book with a collection of stories about some of the extraordinary people he has come to know in the slums of Bangladesh, South Asian Adventures with the Active Poor. (Proceeds from the sales help support the Amarok Society.) Gem and his wife Tanyss Munro have been awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals for their charitable work.
The Amarok Society goes into some of the worst slums on earth in Bangladesh to teach very poor children by teaching their mothers to become neighborhood teachers. This helps them to educate many children at very low cost, overcoming barriers to women’s and girls’ education. Many of these children otherwise receive no education at all and work full-time from an early age to help support their families. Past political conflicts, overcrowding, and environmental problems like coastal flooding have left many of these people with few resources.
Gem addressed the question, “How can we reach and teach 70 million children whose families are too poor to afford schooling?” They are approaching that by hiring teachers, building schools, and leveraging education by teaching mothers how to teach basic education to the children in their neighborhoods. He is trying to develop relations with Rotarians, some of whose Clubs sponsor schools there. He noted the value of building better relations with moderate Muslim nations to reduce the potential of fanatic-driven conflicts elsewhere.
Gem showed a video on reaching and teaching the children’s mothers, in their own language and neighborhoods. The Amarok Society’s website is, which has inspirational videos and more information about its activities and receiving donations.