Who am I? I am someone who chose his parents & pin code wisely.
How far you go in India depends on the parents you were born to & the pin code. I call it the ovarian lottery. I have been lucky, I chose my parents and my pin code wisely. 300 million didn’t and therefore are reeling under abject poverty.
Magic Bus stands true to its name and is symbolic of the work they are doing in the area of educating & empowering children right from childhood to livelihood.
I have been to several NGO’s across India, so much so that I have lost count, but I have never ever visited a slum.
Today, courtesy Magic Bus, I visited a slum in Milind Nagar, Mumbai, my first reaction was that of bewilderment, small dingy cobbled roads, heavily populated with shanties on either side, garbage dumped in pompous display, even the dogs don’t move, so you have to be an amateur steeplechase athlete to jump over both the dog and the pipes. I managed it all three times with panache. Welcome to Mumbai - Welcome to India because true India lives here.
I was extremely impressed by the dedication and sincerity of the Community Youth Leaders, Babu & Supriya. Babu had spent 9 years with Magic Bus - The way they went about their work, enthused me, the children had one thing in common, dreamy eyes and a flashing smile. The children were being exhorted to a small interesting game under the simple principle of “each one teaches one “.
Babu’s & Supriya’s impact on these young children is profound & long lasting. They shape the character, curiosity level & intellectual potential of these children. In other words, they help shape our society.
Hats off Supriya & Babu - It’s not easy what you are doing, that’s the reason why you are doing it. You are the chosen one.
As Gabriela Mistral has so poignantly said. “We are guilty of many crimes, but our worst sin is abandoning the child; neglecting the foundation of life. May of the things we need can wait; The child cannot. We cannot answer tomorrow. Her name is Today “
Education is also a basic component of social cohesion & national identity. The foundations for a conscious & active citizenship are often laid in school.
What Magic Bus does to a nicety is, it gives shape to children’s dreams, gives the child a sense of belonging – making him/her feeling wanted. The schools where these children go are not particularly great, therefore a dovetailing of situational awareness coupled with a basic understanding such as washing hands before eating goes a long way in eliminating the vulnerability.
Another unique feature of Magic Bus is that it uses a robust learning model ABC (Activity Based Curriculum ) that uses activities and games to change attitudes and behaviours. 40 sessions per year - each with a key message, teach children important life skills around education, gender, and health.
My message to the children was simple “Don’t worry about where you are now, focus on where you want to go “ Embrace these challenges & hardships, they will make you strong & keep you rooted.
Working at the bottom of the pyramid is a daunting task, but this is where a radical transformation must happen. These 300 million people must enter mainstream for India to stand any chance of stamping its prowess on the global arena. In a country where we have more cell phone’s than loos, we don’t even realize what we need. That is what poverty can do to you.
But our dreams are more powerful than our memories & life is lived forward but understood backwards.
As I made my way outside the dwindling path – to the more comfortable surroundings, I thanked the Lord Almighty & Magic Bus for giving me this opportunity to see the blatant reality of life.
By: Shajan Samuel
Thank you Shajan! Your lens has beautifully captured the happiness and zeal of children and youth associated with Magic Bus Programme.