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

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