Majri is a village in the Bhadravati Taluka, Chandrapur District, of the State of Maharashtra, India. The nearest large town is the District headquarter, Chandrapur, 41 kilometres away. The State Capital Mumbai, India's commercial Capital, is 725 kilometres away.
Majri is not very large - just 476 families or a population of 2446 (1279 male and 1167 female). The basic infrastructure of the village is good, with well–connected roads, continuous water supply, toilets at almost all the houses and, very importantly for Magic Bus' work, an available playground. Only a quarter of the homes are kuchcha, or made of mud-and-daub. The village has a Zila Parishad-run school and four private schools in the vicinity.
Like many Central Indian villages, the community is segregated along caste lines. The Maratha families do not visit the Dalit (Scheduled Caste) families or participate in any of their festivals. The families only come together during political meetings.
Magic Bus began interventions in this community in 2011. There are 165 children in the programme at present.
9-year-old Utkarsh felt awkward about playing with girls.
"I think this is one of the most common problems we face while conducting mixed gender sessions. There is so much stigma in society about girls and boys playing or interacting with each other that most children grow up with a deep-rooted belief about the opposite sex. These beliefs are mostly misleading and rooted in what society thinks men and women should behave like or do", explains Youth Mentor Savita.
It was difficult to get Utkarsh to play with girls or even to interact with them. He believed that most girls didn't know how to play and including them would make the game 'slow'.
In an attempt to address this stereotype, Utkarsh was encouraged to play, and when he resisted, watch matches where girls played alongside boys. Slowly, he began noticing that playing together was a whole lot of fun! Each team member, whether it be a boy or girl, supported and helped others and lead her or his team to victory.
Utkarsh is one of the most active children in our programme at present. In fact he has become more outspoken, warm and friendly than he was when he joined the programme.His parents are happy with his transformation; and so are we.
A few of the areas of behaviour change addressed by Magic Bus volunteers and mentors include:
Magic Bus sessions here are conducted weekly and 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