The Dakshinpuri slums are home to many of the capital’s skilled labourers where they live in cramped, single-brick rooms that can barely hold an average family size of 6-7 people that usually lives in them. Water supply and sanitation are some of the most immediate challenges, although equally serious is the lack of access to quality education, which affects the lives of the residents and their futures.
The Magic Bus programme was started on 27 April 2011 with Rituraj as the Training and Monitoring Officer in charge of this community. There are around 382 children in this community, of which approximately 70% are boys. There are 7 Community Youth Leaders of which five are boys are 2 are girls.
A football tournament was held for mixed group of girls and boys in May 2014. A parents’ meeting was also organised in which parents talked about the issues their children were facing.
Sanju is a 13-year-old Christian boy living in Dakshinpuri. His father works at a private firm and his mother works as a domestic maid. Sanju dropped out from school in Std 8.
Before joining Magic Bus, he used to smoke more than 10 cigarettes in a day and was addicted to tobacco. He was very abusive, used foul language and used to fight a lot with his peers.
When Magic Bus started the programme, the Youth Mentor noticed that Sanju was irresponsible, never followed the rules of the ground and didn’t listen to anyone. Sometimes he even stopped the Youth Mentor and Community Youth Leaders from taking the session. This affected not just him but also the other children who were trying their best to be a part of these sessions.
The Youth Mentor and Community Youth Leaders slowly understood that Sanju was different in that he was brought up in a very rough environment, and required special attention. They focussed their sessions on him and tried to motivate him. They also organised a meeting with his parents and informed them about his behaviour. They also told his parents about the importance of education and about the effects of smoking and tobacco use. Sanju’s parents in turn tried to explain this to him.
After few months of hard work by the Magic Bus team, a few changes were noticeable in Sanju. He had re-enrolled in school and was going regularly. He was also trying hard to control his habit of chewing tobacco and smoking. He even promised the Magic Bus team that in a few months he would quit completely. “For us, this was the biggest achievement,” says Rituraj, the Training and Monitoring Officer in Dakshinpuri.
The sessions are held from 8am to 10am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The sessions are divided into three parts:
Warm up: The development goal is introduced using interactive activities
Main activity: The development goal is reinforced using sports and activities
Review: A discussion is facilitated to draw parallels to real-life situations and sum up the learning objectives
Off of the training field, we supplement our activities by working with the communities that our children come from. Besides regular meetings with children and parents, we hold rallies, hygiene drives and community-wide sporting events aimed at empowering and strengthening these communities.