Dhanoli, a village with about 214 households and a population of around 801, lies in the Bhadrawati block of Chandrapur, Maharashtra, and is 16 km away from Bhadravati town. Most residents live in brick and mortar homes, but there are also those who can only afford mud and daub structures or huts made from twigs and leaves. On an average, a 350-square-foot room accommodates a family of six to seven members.
Residents of Dhanoli belong to disadvantaged communities such as Kunbi, Mahar, Gond, Madgi, and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The primary occupation here is agriculture and those who own land grow rice and wheat. Others work as daily-wage labourers and farm hands on neighbouring farms. But the crop is subject to the erratic monsoon, and life is hard for the village.
The village has a Marathi-medium Zilla Parishad school that caters to children up to Std 7. For further studies, children have to travel to the block level school in Bhadravati, but their parents can’t always afford to send them so far for education.
The nearest medical facility is a primary healthcare centre set up by the government 1 km away. An auxiliary nurse-midwife visits the village once a week for free health checks.
The Magic Bus Sport for Development programme started in Dhanoli in December 2011 with 60 children, including 36 boys and 24 girls.
13-year-old Reena studies in the seventh standard and belongs to a family of five. Both her parents are tailors with a monthly income of Rs 4000. Reena has one elder sister, aged 20 and studying in the 12th standard, and one younger brother, aged 10 and reading in the fourth standard. Reena's family is among the poorest in the Dhanoli community.
When our Youth Mentor, Sangita, spotted Reena, the latter was just 10 years old. Reena's voice had a certain confidence which easily inspired people around her. Although gifted, Reena was slightly hesitant in taking leadership roles in the group. Sangita started encouraging Reena to recognise her innermost potential as a leader. She gave Reena responsibilities of summoning the group together, conducting ice-breakers, and motivating those group members who were too diffident to participate. Faced with these challenges, Reena exceeded her own expectations and started recognising her own talents - something that Sangita had recognised long ago and wanted Reena to realise through these responsibilities.
Although very young, Reena is the peer leader in her group now. She supports the Community Youth Leader to conduct Magic Bus sessions in her locality. She is gradually emerging as a young role model for her community as well.
A few of the areas of behaviour change addressed by Magic Bus volunteers and mentors include:
Sessions in Dhanoli are organised every Saturday from 8.30 am to 10.00 am and are divided into three parts:
Photographs are from Magic Bus areas of operation and are used for representation only.