Balram Nagar is a small locality in Loni, Ghaziabad, near Thakur Park. With narrow, potholed lanes and single-storied houses, the area answers all the typical characteristics of an urban poor neighbourhood. Four years ago, the area was in the news for a horrific lynching incident [http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2009-02-23/delhi/28054708_1_robbers-ghaziabad-steel-rods]. Incidents such as this one are not uncommon in Ghaziabad, earning the entire district disrepute as a crime-prone area.
The approximate population of this area is 4000 people, most of whom live below the official poverty line.
Magic Bus’ work here was started by employees Jeebanjyoti and Uma, in July 2011. Sessions are conducted every Friday and work around the Magic Bus impact areas of promoting education, gender equity and healthy behaviour.
The major challenge in Balram Nagar was getting girls to participate. Local beliefs did not encourage girls to have lives outside of their home, especially after the onset of puberty. Magic Bus employees spent 2 months walking and talking, door-to-door and on street corners, resolving queries and doubts, until parents were convinced that their girls deserved all the rights childhood has to offer.
Another problem was that of bullying. Older children, especially boys, had a tendency to gang up against younger children and beat them up. To get around this, the Magic Bus mentor in charge created two separate groups initially, one for older children, the other for younger ones.
This age-based separation seems to be working for now and it has bought the Magic Bus team time to work on the older children’s propensity towards violence.
Key messages imparted in the sessions and off the training fields:
The sessions here are delivered every Friday, lasting for two hours and are divided into three parts: