Padasgaon is a tiny village of about 1,200 households in the Ballarpur block of Chandrapur district in Maharashtra. Although the village is just 15 km from Ballarpur, its inhabitants feel cut off because of the bad roads and infrastructure leading up to and in their village.
Residents of Padagaon are from disadvantaged communities such as Lahars and Kumbhars, and most of them fall under the category of Scheduled Castes, Nomadic Tribes and Other Backward Classes. Most residents earn a living through agriculture and each farmer occupies an average of 2-3 acres of land, which is the family’s only means of survival.
The rate of literacy in this village is 70%, and children attend school regularly. There is a Marathi-medium primary and secondary school up to Std 10, but for higher studies, children have to travel to other towns nearby.
The nearest primary healthcare centre is 7 km away is the only option in a medical emergency. An Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) visits the village once a week for free health check-ups.
The biggest issue that the community faces is the lack of toilets. Only 30% of the inhabitants have access to toilets. As Magic Bus works in the area of health and hygiene awareness, this was one of the main reasons Magic Bus chose to set up a programme here.
With permission from the village Sarpanch, Magic Bus conducted a demo session where people from the community were invited to participate so they could understand how the programme works. Sport for Development (S4D) sessions in Padasgaon started in February 2011 with 27 children. Today, 87 children from the community – including 41 girls and 46 boys – attend the Magic Bus programme.
10-year-old Kajal Manohar Madhavi is one of the many below poverty households in Padasgaon.
Kajal’s family earns INR 5000 a month through farming and menial jobs. They live in a mud house in Palasgaon. Both Kajal and her younger brother go to school, but are shy children.
When Kajal joined the Magic Bus programme, she was extremely nervous about being a part of a group. She was hesitant to speak to people and would shy away from joining the group games as well. She was also reluctant to participate in activities that were conducted with a mixed group with boys.
We recognised her apprehensions and began helping her overcome them. They invited her for counselling sessions on gender equality, explaining that she was just as intelligent and strong as the other children and she had the right to play with all her friends. They began weaving this message into group sessions and encouraged Kajal to start participating in group activities to build her confidence.
Today, Kajal is blossoming into a strong young girl. She enthusiastically participates in all the Magic Bus sessions and believes that these changes in her life will help her become a successful person one day.
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
Sessions are held every Monday from 8.30 am to 10.30 am and are divided into three parts: