Wednesday, March 26

Magic Bus Delhi gets its first Community Resource Centre

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step," LAO-TZU

Our North Delhi Youth Mentoring Team at the inauguration of their new Community Resource Centre
Passionate and enthusiastic youth mentors and staff from our North Delhi Programme Team were overjoyed when their efforts and work in the field was recognised by a local community resident. Mr Manoj was so impressed and touched by Magic Bus' work and the impact created in the Bakkarwala community relating to promoting gender equity, education and health, that he provided a free space for us to open a Community Resource Centre, and supported it's inauguration.

Magic Bus will always be grateful to Mr. Manoj for making the dream of having a Community Resource Centre a reality.

Magic Bus' North Delhi District Programme Manager, and Magic Bus' Delhi State Head acknowledging special guests and youth present at the inauguration of the Community Resource Centre, including our donor Mr. Manoj

The advantages of having a local community resource centre are significant.

Located in Bakkarwala, this Community Resource Centre will serve as a gateway for partnership opportunities with existing NGOs/institutions, new collaborations and initiatives, and enable the provision of Partnership Advisory Services and Outreach to a variety of entities.

The Centre provides a powerful platform through which to foster our connection with the local community, an element that is critical in making a Magic Bus programme successful.

Since its' inauguration in September 2013, the Bakkarwala Community Resource Centre has been host to several inter-community meetings, parents' meetings, painting competitions for children, activity-based seminars and a visit by important partners such as Barclays.

 Periodic training for our Youth Mentors has been made easier by removing the challenges of having to find a venue, the funding to cover the fees and the long distances that our mentoring team often had to travel to.

In the coming months we are planning to start our Livelihood programme called 'Connect' which prepares our Magic Bus Community Youth Leaders to go into employment. The Connect programme aims to bridge the gap between employers and young people by training them in Functional English, Computer Literacy & Work-readiness skills.

Magic Bus' North Delhi Youth Mentoring Team excited at the opening of their new Community Resource Centre

Tuesday, March 25

Insights into a Youth Development Camp

A Youth Development camp was held for 100 Community Youth Leaders (CYLs), who volunteer to deliver our Thane programme in Maharashtra. The camp took place at our Magic Bus Learning Centre on the outskirts of Mumbai.
The primary objective of the camp was to allow our CYLs to focus on issues relating to youth development and career planning in a concerted and uninterrupted manner.

The topics covered over the 3 days included:

·         personal and social development
·         individual and group values
·         managing one’s strengths and weaknesses
·         various dynamics of leadership
·         career planning

The first four modules created a sense of self-awareness, a pre-requisite for the concluding topic of career planning.  The methods employed to help us reach this goal was not that of a lecture, but activity-based. This provided an impetus for the CYLs to express their ideas and understandings. The emphases of these activities were to allow the CYLs to vigorously debate the philosophies that resulted from the introspection drawn on the topics discussed.  Packed with interactive outdoor exercises and role plays the programme provides experiential learning on the challenges of leadership, prioritisation of values, and assessment of one’s strengths and weaknesses.

One could visibly note the behavioural change the CYLs went through over the three days. They learned to develop an inherent sense of responsibility, team spirit and understood what it takes to be a leader. They also further developed abilities of how to communicate effectively, think strategically and solve complex problems. The distinction in the responses provided by the CYLs in the pre- and post-assessment forms of the topics covered indicated maturity and understanding of the topics.

Recognising the importance of career planning, the CYLs formed area-specific youth committees. The objective of these youth committees is to create a grouping for the CYLs to collectively voice their career requirements and to create a sense of ownership of the youth development programme.

The youth development camp is an important step in allowing the CYLs to single-mindedly deliberate on their personal and professional growth. The ideas expressed by the CYLs formulate the core and direction for the Magic Bus’ Youth Development programme, ensuring orientation with their requirements.

  • If you'd like to know more about the Magic Bus programme, visit
  • To sponsor the training of a Magic Bus Community Youth Leader (CYL) to become a change-maker in a poor community, visit

Wednesday, March 19

Shared Values as an Opportunity

By Matthew Spacie, Magic Bus Founder & Executive Chairman

The new CSR Clause in the Companies Bill 2012 is a unique opportunity for companies to engage in the shared values of all entities – values such as human development, youth welfare, better health and more gender equity for all. 

Hard data and common sense both point to the fact that the cost of inaction is high. We simply cannot afford to ignore large-scale problems such as poverty anymore. The world over, growing poverty levels have been linked to youth anger and conflict, and a conflict situation affects everyone — industries, corporations, governments and citizens. 

Since giving in India as a percentage of GDP is very low compared to that of global standards, this quantum jump in corporate giving as a result of the CSR clause, will, to an extent, bring Indian philanthropy closer to global standards. Whether or not it will make a real dent on the nation's development issues, however, depends on several other factors. 

The first set of challenges we foresee would be in the corporate sector's interpretation of what constitutes real-impact investments. There is a strong welfare-orientation in India, perhaps driven by the fact that, traditionally, giving has been associated with religious traditions. While some amount of welfare-based activities are simply an expression of altruism and so are welcome, the widespread understanding that welfare equals development needs to be challenged. 

Thankfully, this understanding is now slowly changing. The world over, investments in charity are only being done after methodical needs assessments, and informed decisions being taken to channel funding to those causes that need it the most. As well as those which have maximum impact. To explain the difference, here is an example from Magic Bus' own story.

In the early days of Magic Bus, we thought young people living in impoverished circumstances needed jobs. So we used our networks and contacts to connect them to jobs. This is an example of a welfare-based approach. What we did not understand was that without the vital and complex ingredients such as education, and skills such as teamwork, it was not possible for these young people to hold down these jobs. All of them had left within a year of being hired. 

We then changed our approach to a long-term, development-oriented approach. We started working with younger children, instilling in them not just the skills but also the orientation needed to be employment-ready. The incubation period was longer, but by the end of the fourth year, we were beginning to see changes that turned out to be permanent. Children learnt healthy behaviour patterns that would keep them safe from common ailments and improve their entire family's health.

Girls and boys started believing in gender equity, and by the time the girls grew into late adolescence, they were taking control over their lives. Magic Bus girls say no to child marriage and thus prevent the entire poverty-ill health-teenage pregnancy-no education trap.

The second set of challenges is with the government sector, in learning how best to leverage Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to meet the nation's foremost development goals.

Multi-partner initiatives that are designed with the community at its centre, are the new way to go. The days of separate initiatives  — NGO, Corporate or Government — doing all the work by themselves in silos that address specific development challenges are over (for example, one entity works to prevent HIV/AIDS infections, another works to get children back to school, a third works to get road connectivity and so on). 

This is the age of collaboration, of shared value and multi-partner initiatives that offer holistic solutions and work closely with the community themselves taking the lead. The new CSR Clause is also a unique opportunity to grow such cross-sectoral collaborations.

Friday, March 7

Gulafsha Khan: Mentor, Guide, Leader, Teacher at Magic Bus

Source: Women of Pure Wonder, Vodafone Coffee Table Book

Not far from the historic city of the erstwhile Mughal rulers, Delhi, is the large settlement colony of Bhalswa. In stark contrast to the grandeur of the capital city, Bhalswa can best be described as Delhi’s largest dumping ground. It is difficult to conceive that the shantytown is home to thousands of families who were evicted from the slums in Delhi and resettled near a landfill site. It is even harder to believe that a young girl could rise like a phoenix from under the pervasive haze of the putrid and toxic methane gas.
Gulafsha Khan was a young girl when her family was forced to move to Bhalswa. ‘We lived in a slum in Nizammudin in South Delhi with access to clean water and electricity. We were horrified when we got to Bhalswa. The area was a desolate jungle swarming with snakes. People were so despondent that they wanted to run away. When the settlers began digging the earth to stand their shelters, they found countless bones. It was a creepy place,’ recalls Gulafsha. Her five siblings and parents struggled to make ends meet then and it is now very different. Most of the community’s population is well below the poverty line. Men and women work as daily wage workers at construction sites while some women find employment as maids in more affluent areas nearby.

Over time, the settlement degenerated into a slum while the peripheral area developed with the setting up of two primary schools and one secondary school. Gulafsha and her five siblings found their way to school while living in a one-room slum with their parents. In 2011, Gulafsha heard about the NGO Magic Bus from her friends. She went to meet its volunteers, Santosh and Mahadev, and learned that Magic Bus worked to drive change in the areas of education, health and hygiene and reproductive health.

Gulafsha says, ‘I signed for the Community Youth Leader (CYL) programme. After my six-day training, I had to make a group of 25 kids and teach through play. I approached several parents to permit their children to join our activities in the nearby park. Many declined for safety reasons. I had to build their trust in me over time to prove to them that I was a responsible girl.’ The volunteer youth mentor at Magic Bus recognized Gulafsha’s enthusiasm and extraordinary mentoring skills and awarded her CYL of the Month. They consistently encouraged her to pursue her education while gently cajoling her parents to agree.

Subsequently, Gulafsha joined the Connect programme, a special programme which trained the Magic Bus Community Youth Leaders in Functional English, Computer Literacy, and Interview Readiness skills. ‘The Connect Programme has helped me a lot. After completing the course, I feel confident. There’s also a remarkable improvement in my verbal English,’ said Gulafsha.

‘It has not been easy for me to step out to work. My community has constantly taunted my parents for letting me work and in turn my parents have often pressurized me to abandon social work. When I am with my group of children I feel like a child again. In the time that I spend with them, I forget my worries about the present and the future entirely.’

Gulafsha realized that her parents could not afford her college education so she began giving home tuitions to middle-school children. ‘I now pay my college fees from my earnings,’ says Gulafsha. ‘I want to study further to qualify for a teacher’s job.’

Gulafsha, 19 wants to live life on her own terms and she does today.

Article source: 'Women of Pure Wonder', Struggle. Survival. Success', Published by Roli Books. An initiative by the Vodafone India Foundation

Tuesday, March 4

We're making sport safer

By Matthew Ruuska, is involved in an initiative to make sport safer for children. Joining the International Safeguarding Children in Sport Working Group,, is collaborating with more than fifty organisations around the globe to pilot a set of standards to safeguard all children participating in sport.

© Marianne Meier, Swiss Academy for Development (SAD)
Millions of children and young people take part in sporting activities across the world every day. Unfortunately, sport, as with other social domains, can bring risks such as violence and abuse towards children and youth. These risks can have a negative impact on development objectives and must be guarded against if the full positive power of sport is to be realised.

Only a few organisations involved in sport and sport for development globally have the systems and structures needed to make sport safer for children, and stakeholders are increasingly recognising that without deliberate efforts on the part of clubs and organisations, federations, and policy makers, we cannot be confident that children will always have a safe experience in sport.

Youth Leadership Camp Sweden 2013 participants ©Ben Taylor/UNOSDP
It is for this reason that we have partnered with a diverse group of experts including UNICEF UK, UK Sport, Keeping Children Safe, NSPCC's Child Protection in Sport Unit, Right to Play, Women Win, Swiss Academy for Development, Commonwealth Secretariat, Beyond Sport and Comic Relief, to commit to making sport safer.

Brunel University have been commissioned by the working group to review the standards at the end of the pilot process. We are working with the this group of researchers to ensure that the final tool produced by the working group is useful and achieves the goal of making sport safer.

Liz Twyford from UNICEF UK described the standards as a set of actions that all organisations working in sport should have in place to ensure children are safe from harm and should be used as a benchmark of good practice to work towards, rather than an end in themselves.

At present there are eleven draft standards. These are to:

Write a policy on keeping children safe
Use procedures, personnel and systems that support safeguarding
Assess and minimise risks to children
Produce guidelines on behaviour towards children
Ensure equity – ALL children being safeguarded
Communicate the ‘keep children safe’ message
Provide education and training for keeping children safe
Engage with advice and support
Work with partners to meet the standards
Involve children in development, review and implementation
Monitor and evaluate compliance and effectiveness of safeguarding measures

Visit the sportanddev website to learn more about child protection and safeguarding in sport -