Dolara has a population of 961 people including 219 children. The village is located in the Bhadrawati taluka in the Indian state of Mahrashtra. Of the 189 households, 97 have a Below Poverty Line card and a majority of the villagers work as daily wage labourers.
A hospital, school, college and playground are located less than 1 km away, but the Public Health Centre is much farther, in the Bhadrawati taluka.
The village faces sanitation issues due to the lack of proper toilets. The residents have little understanding of health and hygiene, causing illness among the villagers on a regular basis.
Magic Bus started its Dolara programme in 2011. During the initial stages, they encountered strong resistance from the community that was set in its own fixed ways. The initial efforts focused on gaining the villagers’ acceptance and increasing the participation of children in the sessions. Progress was painfully slow but today, the programme has helped 152 children create a better life for themselves.
This is the story of Pallavi Rajhans Ramteke, who has been with the programme since 2011. She hails from a Scheduled Caste family. Her parents earn INR 7000 a month working as daily wage labourers. Pallavi has 2 brothers – all of them go to school.
When Pallavi joined the programme, she was a shy 15 year old. Her self-esteem was low and she was hesitant to play games and interact with others. As a result, she would often skip sessions, triggering a vicious cycle of decreasing interaction with others, leading to her withdrawing into a shell.
Meherunisa Sheikh from the Magic Bus team was determined to pull Pallavi out of her cocoon. She began coaching the young girl on self-respect and confidence. Pallavi was encouraged to start attending the sessions regularly and talk to other children. The Magic Bus team continued moulding her into a confident girl through various counselling and Connect Training sessions. Her growth was propelled further by participating in the Community Youth Leader (CYL) training, where she found a new sense of purpose.
A few of the areas of behaviour change addressed by Magic Bus volunteers and mentors include:
• Importance of personal and environmental hygiene
• Equal treatment of boys and girls
• Importance of education
• Respect for elders
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