Thursday, December 27

Connect Pilot in Mumbai

On 17th December 2012, at 10.30 am a small and visibly excited motley group of people sat down to
a conversation that marked the beginning of a new phase in the Magic Bus journey. The Magic Bus
Aajeevika Margadarshan Kendra is the organisation’s attempt to reach out to youth who may not have
had the opportunity to be part of the core ten year programme, but who do need the guidance and
mentoring crucial to help them move from childhood to livelihood. The centre is part of a pilot project
led by the Programme Development Unit, with Masood coordinating the Mumbai initiative.

Set in a corner of the sprawling BPT slum is a shuttered space, 15 x 15 feet, with a metal shutter and
a small office space on the first floor. Already, it has been marked off as a Magic Bus space, thanks to
an incredible effort from the administration team in Mumbai (especially Azeem and Vivek) – it is clean,
painted, there are neat chairs and laptops ready for students, electrical wires are being tidied up and
sealed. Significantly, Magic Bus did not stop with the center itself – the area outside was a garbage
dump last week. On Sunday morning it was almost a play space!

The inauguration was attended by Magic Bus staff including our community coordinators, peer leaders
and members from our Parents’ Collective. Sindhu had through extensive follow ups ensured that the
Corporator of the area, Mrs Samita Naik attended the inauguration with several of her party workers.
Masood initiated the process, inviting the group to sit together to discuss challenges that young
people in the area face in accessing livelihood options. In the highly engaged discussion that ensued,
community members shared their thoughts and experiences freely. Some of the comments and sharings
that emerged from the discussion are:
a. Children need positive role models who will enable them to see value in education
b. The main thing children require is guidance – how should they think positively, what can they
contribute and what steps should they take to progress
c. Most children here cannot speak English. So when they go to a prospective employer they
immediately lose out to convent-educated students who are confident and speak well.
d. Parents should be involved in their children’s lives, providing the support and check that is
required to ensure that they attend school regularly and act responsibly
e. Young people aren’t aware of how they should present themselves for an interview
f. The main thing children need today is to know computers and English. Our children don’t go to
college, so they don’t get this education.

Shanti and Pravina shared the work done by Magic Bus over the past twelve years in BPT focusing on the
long term engagements with children and parents, and the intensive mentoring that has enabled Magic
Bus to be seen as a friend and guide for young people.

Drawing from the sharings of the group, the Connect Pilot was then introduced:

Duration: 3 months
Age Group: for youth close to the age of 18 and above

1. Mon-Wed- Fri
2. Tues- Thurs-Sat

Sport for Development sessions for both batches to be held on Sunday

Timings: 6 – 9 pm
a. Functional English
b. Computer Literacy
c. Work Readiness skills
d. Sport for Development

Through this explanation, it became clear that the plan of the pilot has emerged from the needs and
requirements of the community itself. The centre will therefore be seen as a responsive and reliable
space for community youth who seek to make improved livelihood choices.

The Corporator, Mrs Naik, showed a keen interest in the centre, offering the assistance of her party
workers in mobilizing youth and directing them to the centre. She also invited the Magic Bus team to a
centre that trains women in vocational skills at Cotton Green. She mentioned the possibility of directing
women and youth to the BPT centre from other areas.

The high sense ownership and interest shown in the inauguration of this centre is a source of great
encouragement for the entire Magic Bus team. There is a level of trust and enthusiasm associated with
the organization that is both an inspiration and a call to accountability.

By Havovi Wadia, Head-Research & Development, Magic Bus

Wednesday, December 26

Children on a journey to a better future..

In India, the Magic Bus programme shows us how young people can realise their dreams, reports Tessa Jowell.
Published in The Telegraph, UK. For the original article, click here 

Sulhita (it is not her real name) looks at me with a measured gaze and tells me that her parents have forbidden her to take a job as a youth leader with Magic Bus. They want her at home looking after her siblings so that her mother can work – sorting and selling rubbish from the huge tip that is one of the main sources of income for the slum dwellers of Mumbai. The argument that by taking the job she would bring more money into the family misses the real point. She is a girl.

Sulhita’s is a common story for girls in India. Often indentured to domestic work, faced with child or arranged marriage, subject to routine physical violence, kept out of school. It is with the young lives of such girls – and boys, too – that Magic Bus has been engaged for the past 10 years.

In a journey described as from childhood to livelihood, the programme’s activity-based curriculum uses a combination of games and teaching about education, gender, health and hygiene. The games build the physical, social and personal skills. Young people like Sulhita are trained as mentors and role models for other children in their community. Children who graduate from Magic Bus have a distinctive self-confidence and presence. Nearly all end up pursuing higher studies or enrolling in a vocational employability programme. Today, the Magic Bus programme is run in 10 states in India and reaches 250,000 children. The immediate ambition is that it should reach one million children by 2015.

For the past seven years, I have spent about a week each year with Magic Bus as a volunteer. I have participated in all aspects of the organisation, from taking children on camp to feedback sessions with the young mentors and being an ambassador with potential investors in the organisation. Crucially, Magic Bus is alone among non-governmental organisations in having access to communities where there are so many young children who can benefit from its work.

My involvement came about in part from the frustration at the “hit-and-run” visits I made when a Cabinet minister and which are part of a Secretary of State’s programme. My first visit was a scheduled half hour with “opportunity for the Secretary of State to interact with children”. I wanted to do more.

The conditions in which the children live in the slums of Mumbai or Delhi are appalling. Rubbish everywhere; tiny shed-like structures that are home to thousands of families; the stench; up to 10 people living in 10 sq ft. All this in a country with an economic growth at a rate of which the UK can only dream but where inequality is brutal, with just 50 people controlling a quarter of India’s wealth.

In trying to inspire youngsters from such deprived backgrounds, it is always easier to stimulate ambition than to see it realised  So many of the young people I meet want to be doctors, lawyers, footballers, air hostesses, nurses, accountants. But there are no role models or mentors who can be the guides up this ladder of aspiration. The schools that teach slum children are not geared to their level of expectation. So while in the first instance the best mentors or role models come from the community, after that outside resources are essential. Hence the importance of the links gradually being developed with BMW and other major companies. Two per cent of Indian young people undergo vocational training; in South Korea it is 90 per cent. But training loans are charged at punitive interest rates of anything from 30 per cent to 36 per cent.

It is clear that the future of India is girls. As one business leader observed: “Put money in the hands of women to make microfinance work.” But when one thinks of how much girl talent remains unrealised in every one of our schools, how we have a persistent gender pay gap and how there are still so few women in senior positions in business, you will appreciate the scale of the problem in India.

Magic Bus is making a difference – and it does so by getting the best possible value for money. It is careful to avoid duplication with other charities but helps maximise its impact in partnership with organisations such as the UN’s International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef). And this approach is working, with Magic Bus children 75 per cent more likely to be in school than other children, 40 per cent more likely to understand that violence or abuse towards them is wrong, and 70 per cent more aware of the vital importance of health and hygiene.

Magic Bus and its success is part of our 2012 London Olympic legacy. The sport and development programme International Inspiration was created to honour the promise we made when awarded the Games in Singapore in 2005 to transform a generation of children around the world through sport. Now in 20 countries, the programme has touched the lives of 12 million children, including those from the Indian slums.

These are not just examples of help for the disadvantaged being delivered from thousands of miles away. They also remind us of how the childhood of so many of our own young people can nurture dreams that against all the odds they can, with help, realise.

Dame Tessa Jowell is a Member of Parliament & former culture secretary of the UK Government (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport) and an ardent Magic bus supporter.

Celebrating The Girl Child!

Magic Bus is thrilled to have participated in the International Girl child day celebrations organized by the Asian Girl Campaign, as their strategic partner for India.

As part of the celebrations, Magic Bus held events and activities in several districts. This was marked by football and cricket tournaments, an elocution competition, an essay writing competition, a drawing competition and two rallies. Each competition was theme based - emphasizing the discrimination girls face and the need to treat them as equals. Two skits were also created based on the need for equality between boys and girls, in terms of the opportunities for them in school and in sports. These events succinctly captured the principles behind Magic Bus' mentoring program, fitting with the Asian Girl Campaign theme.The activities that were organized received wide-ranging participation and were well received.

Read more on how the International Girl child Day was celebrated in different countries at

Thursday, November 15

Girls Soccer: Phillips, Penncrest kick off for a good cause

Some summer camps offer a few days of fun in the sun. Some offer transformational experiences.
For Penncrest midfielder Paige Phillips, last summer was one of the latter. And she’s passing on the message.
Phillips and her Penncrest teammates staged a charity event last weekend, bringing together 12 teams of players and parents for a morning of mini-games to raise money for Magic Bus, a charity which brings sporting opportunities to children living in poverty in India.
With the help of the Penncrest community and girls soccer coach Alicia Santelli, the event raised almost $600 and also included an equipment drive that provided used soccer cleats and other gear for the organization.
Phillips came to learn about Magic Bus’s activities at a summer camp hosted by the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy over the summer at the Peddie School in New Jersey. Foudy has partnered her charity with Magic Bus, a multinational non-governmental organization seeking to improve the lives of children existing in poverty in India through sport.
Magic Bus, which is based in Mumbai and operates fundraising arms in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, has touched the lives of a quarter of a million children in seven states of India, including some of the poorest area of the developing nation. By spreading the message and inclusiveness of sport for the last decade, Magic Bus expands the horizons of children, making them more likely to stay in school, remain healthy and disease-free and escape poverty. The organization also provides a much-needed support structure that involves mentoring to empower young men and women to escape the cycle of poverty and violence and instill leadership values that feed-forward the process of prosperity.
Foudy’s academy, which runs camps in three states, helps improve young girls skills on the soccer and lacrosse fields while also providing lessons in leadership and confidence that translate off the field. It is in that vein that JFSLA and Magic Bus partnered up.
Starting in 2011, Magic Bus began sending girls from the slums of India to JFSLA camps, first in San Francisco, to experience sport and freedom outside of their home country. As described by ESPNW, the 20-hour flight for most was the first time they’d ever flown on a plane, ever left their families or India, a country where women and women’s sports remain marginalized and confined to subpar opportunities.
It was at a camp like that at the Peddie School that Phillips met one of the girls from Magic Bus, Prajakta Tambadkar. It was the similarities that the two soccer players and roommates shared that inspired Phillips’ fundraising drive.
“I thought there would be so many differences because we come from such different places,” Phillips said. “But we had so much in common. It was cool to know that the things she was aspiring to – wanting to be a coach and having a goal to come to the U.S. to be a college coach – those were the same as my goals.”
Phillips has experience with charitable drives, organizing one last year through her FC Delco club team for the victims of tornados in Alabama that raised over $6,000 for the Red Cross. This effort didn’t hit the same types of numbers, but the cause was no less personal.
“It meant a lot to me,” Phillips said of meeting and learning from Tambadkar, with whom she keeps in contact via Facebook. “By meeting her and hearing the stories she had about her life, it really had a big impact. I wanted to help out any way I could. I knew my high school team would support the idea.

Wednesday, August 29

Chennai Kicks It Loud

Magic Bus made its way into Chennai with enthusiastic efforts of District Programme Manager, Jaraslo Vinod Raj (we call him Jerry), in April when children of the Tamil capital enjoyed the first sessions organised with the help of the local Panchayat and Siru Malargal Home orphanage. A 100 days on, the Anjur School Grounds hosted a mini football tournament in true spirit of sports.

Monday, July 23

Founder-CEO Matthew Spacie (MBE) to run with the Olympic Torch

This is THE day! Matthew is running with the Olympic Torch today, the 23rd of July, 2012, through the London Borough of Sutton.

Monday, July 9

Torchbearers On The Magic Bus

On July 23, Matthew Spacie, Founder-CEO Magic Bus, a non-profit organisation that works with less-privileged kids, will carry the Olympic torch in London. Also there will be one of their star footballers, Gulafsha Ansari, to showcase her project that empowers the girl child through sport. Mid-Day writes in today's edition.

Dharavi Girl's Football Project Gets Her Ticket To The Olympics

15-year-old Gulafsha won a global online campaign organised by Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy (JFSLA) earlier this year, which secured her a chance to be at the 2012 Olympic Games. Her project on helping girls come out in the open to play and rub shoulders with the boys was ranked #1 during the campaign. Very soon, she's flying to London - an article by journalist Mugdha Variyar in Hindustan Times, Mumbai Edition.

Magic Bus - One Man's Quest To Transform Indian Children's Lives With Sport

Soleil Nathwani from Soho House writes about Magic Bus.

Sunday, July 8

Bringing Hope In Despair

Harshita Arvind, our newest hire in Relationships, shares her experience of being at her first Magic Bus session held at an East Delhi location.

Thursday, June 28

Street20 - League For A Cause

Street20 Cricket is a different game. UK-based Cricket For Change (C4C) has been using cricket to change the lives of disadvantaged young people. Magic Bus partnered with C4C last year with the support of Barclays Spaces for Sports to use the programme in India. A year down the line, three districts of Delhi / NCR played an exciting Street20 tournament. Team Magic Bus reports.

Thursday, June 21

Now, Girls Play With Boys | A BMW-Magic Bus Partnership Story

The partnership helped us address gender issues in Lal Kuan (Chungi 3), a slum location in South Delhi.

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something; but I can’t accept not trying!” | A BMW-Magic Bus Partnership Story

Appreciate, encourage, improve – some of the most essential elements of being a mentor with Magic Bus. These elements can easily turn a seemingly impossible situation around.

Monday, June 18

India's Magic Bus Ensures Happiness On Wheels

The first organisation to deliver high-impact development sport for programmes, Magic Bus aims to create a world where children have the freedom to choose the role they want to play in life and be able to define their own destiny. A large part of the organisation’s work is to promote gender equality, with special emphasis on ensuring the welfare of the girl child. The target audience of the Magic Bus are children and youth. Its philosophy revolves around the concept of mentoring, feels Nilima Pathak from Gulf News.

Wednesday, June 13

The Dasra Social Impact Experience

"People say, some things change your life. No one who signed up for the Dasra Social-Impact, Cohort-6 programme in July / August 2011 would have thought this would be one of them", feels Kusum Mohapatra.
This guest blog from her for Dasra was also published in Sankalp’s newsletter edition of April 2012.

Thursday, May 31

Sports effective tool for change in gender issues: Study

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Sensitising young athletes and their coaches about gender issues can be an effective tool for prevention of violence against women, according to a study by a prominent women's rights group.

Friday, May 25

Teen Wraps Up Successful Soccer Gear Drive

This week, we bring you this article from Benicia Herald, featuring how teenager Emily Wolfe successfully drove an equipment-giving campaign, to enable more people play in her neighborhood and back in India.

Thursday, May 17

#BeASport Campaign

#BeASport is a social media movement that is bringing together top stars to help educate India's youth through style + sport.

Wednesday, April 25

You Can Help Magic Bus & Contribute To Girls’ Opportunities Abroad

Ever wonder how you could help girls abroad from your own desktop? Or get involved with a cause that can help bridge the cultural divide between the US and our global neighbors? Well, here’s your chance!

Friday, April 20

A "Magic Bus" For City Kids

The buildings at the Magic Bus camp - like this cabin where campers sleep - were made from materials commonly used in Mumbai's slums, so that visiting children from poor districts would encounter familiar material used in new ways.

Monday, April 9

Excursion In Delhi

As team North Delhi organised a fun-filled picnic to beat the heat, we got our first entry for the blog from Santosh Kumar, a Training and Monitoring Officer with Magic Bus. Read on, as we present this post in his original words. Cheers to the attempt!

Tuesday, March 27

Sport For Development Training At LNUPE, Gwalior

Magic Bus trainers Chirag Sakhare and Subhomoy Bhaduri spent two days with sport volunteers from eleven African countries at Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education, Gwalior

Wednesday, March 21

Not A Child's Play - I

The summer season is here. And to beat up the scorching heat, we have this wonderful color piece from Rashi Jamuar as she shares an exciting induction she underwent with a colleague at Magic Bus.

Wednesday, February 22

Cricket-ness, And More

"Have you ever been smiled at by a random kid on the street, in a way that would brighten up not just one day but days? I was, by about 50 of them, together", says Rashi Jamuar as she puts up her first post on the Magic Bus blog. Pilelo!

Monday, February 13

Dharavi Girl Sees A Chance To London Olympics 2012

Mumbai, India: All she needs is a few clicks from you and those in your networks. Gulafsha, who has been on the Magic Bus programme for a long time now, is participating in the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy (JFSLA) contest.

Tuesday, February 7

Marks And Magic

Magic Bus got rewarded as NDTV's Marks for Sports campaign came to a glorious close in New Delhi on Sunday

Monday, January 16

Magic Bus Tame Desperadoes In MDFA League

A quick one from the Mumbai District Football Association of Maharashtra, we bring you the latest development at the four-year old Magic Bus Football Team (MBFT) this time.

Monday, January 2

Haryana Forms Committee To Set Up NIS-Style Sports Centre

At the beginning of 2012, we are happy to share a recent development as the Government of Haryana moves another step towards sport for all.