Chaprala is a settlement of 136 households, located 17 kms away from the Bhadravati block headquarters in Maharashtra's Chandrapur district. Residents are from the Mahar, Gond, and Kunbi communities, counted among India's historically disadvantaged communities. Most residents work the fields, cultivating the country's staple crops: rice and wheat. A small number of people have found work in the fireworks factories, at no mean risk to their health. Only half can afford pucca houses, the rest live in mud-and-daub structures. Predictably, the village does not have any built-in drainage system.
65 per cent of Chaprala's households lie below the poverty line; it's poverty manifested in government statistics as well as in the sheer lack of resources which dominate this neighbourhood.
Magic Bus started work in Chaprala after an initial meeting with key stakeholders, including the village headman, parents and teachers. Work started with a group of 48 children, of which 19 were girls, with volunteer mentors Priyanka Mahalukar, 19, and Maruti Kunderkar, 22. In keeping with Magic Bus policy, each group has one girl and one boy mentor. Learning happens through a process of experience, reflection, application and consolidation. Activities are designed such that children are engaged in a manner that they imbibe the learning themselves rather than someone enforcing the learning outcomes on them.
Outside of the sessions, a rally on the importance of hand washing, an essay writing competition and a teacher's meeting helped keep the focus on child development issues and raised awareness on children's developmental needs.
Kunal aspires to be a policeman. He is presently studying in the fourth standard and is of 10 years of age. He belongs to a four member family which survives on a monthly income of Rs. 3000. His father works as a labourer. Kunal joined Magic Bus in 2014 when he was 9 years old.
When he he joined Magic Bus, Kunal was not interested in playing during sessions. He stayed away from the games preferring to watch the proceedings from the sidelines.
In order to overcome his hesitation, our Community Youth Leader (CYL) Pooja started working on
Kunal’s motivation levels. Through the activity sessions, he came to know that the spirit of playing together – whether as winners or the losers in a game – is the hallmark of a true sportsman. Kunal was motivated to participate actively.
Kunal shares his desire to teach the games he learns at Magic Bus to other children as well. “Each game has a powerful, underlying message”, reasons Kunal when asked about why he would like to do so.
A few of the areas of behaviour change addressed by Magic Bus volunteers and mentors include:
Sessions are held on Tuesdays between 8-10am and are divided into 3 parts, Magic Bus interacts with children using the following structure:
• 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
Photographs from Magic Bus areas of intervention are used for representation only.