Mulla Colony is a small area in one of the poorest parts of east Delhi. It is a slum settlement with a population of around 25,000 people. Located in Noida near the Ghaziabad border area, this locality is a sharp contrast to Mayur Vihar, where very affluent families live in pockets.
There is a small population of migrants that work as daily-wage labourers and are involved in the construction of a mall and marketplace coming up nearby. Construction is getting delayed and these residents may continue living in kuccha houses for another five years or so.
But most residents living in Mulla Colony – men, women and children – work as rag-pickers at a large, unregulated dumping ground nearby. This dumping ground causes a stench throughout the area. It also poses a serious health risk for residents. Hygiene and sanitation are some of the locality’s largest concerns.
The colony gets its water supply from tankers, but these are irregular and clean water is scarce.
Magic Bus started operations in Mulla Colony in April 2014. Mohit Yadav is the Youth Mentor in charge of the programme. “The percentage of girls in our programme is very low. Our main aim is to encourage more parents to send their daughters for Magic Bus sessions,” he says.
12-year-old Pradeep Kumar studied in the sixth standard of a local government school. But, he hated going to school. "I didn't understand why we were required to go to school. The classes were boring and because I would not pay any attention I naturally lagged behind. I made no friends. Instead my classmates made fun of me".
One day he discovered a group of children playing. He also saw a senior-looking person explaining and urging the group. It looked interesting. Pradeep joined in and soon found himself having a lot of fun. After their game, the group fell back, relaxing. It was then that the facilitator explained what the game meant. Using the different props used, he explained how education is the most important thing in a child's life. Pradeep didn't feel it was dull; in fact, he was strangely drawn towards what the bhaiya was saying.
The next day onward, Pradeep started paying a little more attention in his class. To his surprise, he found that the lessons where not boring at all! There were so many new things to know, they were like these little stories, each story about something he didn't know.
To this day, Pradeep thanks Deepak Kashyap, the Community Youth Leader (CYL) during that session for helping him overcome his fear of schools and studying.
Sessions are conducted here on Saturdays and are divided into three parts:
(Photographs from Magic Bus areas of operation are used for representation only.)