Datala is a village in Chandrapur Taluka of Chandrapur District, Maharashtra, India. The village falls in the Vidarbha region where almost 70 per cent farmer suicides take place. The area is abundant in natural resources but suffers from deep developmental challenges and extreme poverty.
According to the 2011 Census, the total population of Datala is 2883 with 1521 males and 1362 females. Its average sex ratio is disturbingly low at 895 as compared to Maharashtra's 929.
Almost 14.64 %. of the population belongs to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) while 3.16 % are Scheduled Tribes (STs).
Some of the inhabitants own and cultivate on their own small farms, practicing what Indian planners call marginal farming. Agricultural failures are frequent, and when crops fail, there is no option but to work as daily wagers in factories nearby.Out of the total population of 2883, 1104 are engaged in work activities. 91.76 % of workers describe their work as Main Work (employed or earning more than 6 months) while 8.24 % are involved in marginal activities providing livelihood for less than 6 months. Of 1104 workers engaged in Main Work, 76 are cultivators (owner or co-owner) while 230 are agricultural labourers.
With only 220 households having toilet facilities, the sanitation situation in the village is poor.Open defecation is rampant.
Datala has two schools, the Sneha Vidyalaya and the Zila Parishad Upper Primary School.
Pragati, 10, was neither interested in studies nor play. But, she was a regular to school and also to Magic Bus sessions. She did not drop out from either but she put in very less effort or attention in it.
‘She’s a perpetual back-bencher with no interest in what is going on in the class. She is neither mischievous nor disruptive’, was the first impression the youth mentor had from Pragati’s teacher.The youth mentor could identify with what the teacher said about Pragati. In the field, too, she was never active.
As days passed, the youth mentor saw an improvement in Pragati. She had started enjoying the sessions and took an interest in playing football. The youth mentor saw an opportunity to talk to her regarding her studies, as well. During a particular session on the importance of education, she was asked whether she goes to school. ‘Yes’, came the answer. ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’, asked the youth mentor. Pragati had no answer. The mentor explained the importance of paying attention in class in order to learn well.
But, Pragati continued to appear disinterested in classes. At another time, the mentor had asked children to share what they had learnt in their school. Although eager to participate, Pragati had nothing to share. She had not listened to her teachers.
It has been three years since that session. There is a complete change in her. The usually reticent and laid-back girl sits in the first bench in her class and tries her best to contribute to classroom discussions. In the field, she is an energetic footballer.
Magic Bus sessions here 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