With a population of 469 distributed across 111 households, Kunala is a small village located in the Indian state of Maharshtra.
The most predominant social group is that of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) with a small number of ST and SC population.The predominant language is Marathi. Residents are mostly farmers, with those not having land of their own, earning a living through agricultural labour.
A critical difficulty faced by the residents of this area is the distance to the nearest healthcare services. Both the Primary Health Centre (PHC) and hospital is located at a distance of 7 kms from the community. The nearest school and college is equally distant affecting accessibility for children, especially girls.
Magic Bus began working in this area in 2012. There are 55 children whose lives are changing being a part of our programme.
13-year-old Ankit was addicted to guthka (a form of tobacco) when he started coming for Magic Bus sessions.
His Youth Mentor Sangita was worried when she noticed this behaviour in Ankit. "He was a lovable child, quite popular among his friends. I was concerned about the amount of damage he was causing to his health at such a young age", says Sangita.
But, addiction is something that is difficult to surmount. "During the first few months, when I started giving out the message that substance abuse was damaging to the health, I would see a distinct change in Ankit's behaviour. He would simply disconnect from the session. But slowly, he could not ignore the messages anymore. I had a one-on-one discussion with him on his habit. At Magic Bus, we do not believe in scolding the child. Rather making her/him understand why the habit is bad and why she/he should avoid it all costs - is the approach we use with most of our children with similar problems", explains Sangita.
Today, Ankit is a changed person. He no longer chews guthka and he also counsels those who takes to this form of addiction.
A few of the areas of behaviour change addressed by Magic Bus volunteers and mentors include:
Sessions are divided into 3 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.
(Photographs from Magic Bus areas of intervention are used for representation only.)