Located 17 kms from the Central Indian town of Chandrapur, Wandhari is a very small village with a population of just 548 people. Their main source of income is from farming, mainly growing rice. A few people also work as labourers in the MIDC factory in a nearby village called Chota Nagpur, where Magic Bus works too. A single Zilla Parishad school serves students up to the 4th Standard. To continue their schooling, children have to go to a school in a nearby village, Chinchala, which is 2 kms away from Wandhari.
Unlike many of it's rural neighbours, Wandhari has the unique distinction of having a closed drainage system and an all-weather road. Bore wells with pumps operated by solar power are installed at strategic locations.
Magic Bus started work in Wandhari in February 2011. The number of children on the programme here is 55, with 22 boys and 33 girls. The Magic Bus staff member in charge identified and enabled the formal training for two local youth – Amit Deshkar and Roshni Chiwande. The training enables interested young people to become Magic Bus volunteer mentors. At Magic Bus, we call them Community Youth Leaders, and they are instrumental in delivering our programmes across 2000 communities including small villages like Wandhari.
“Learning happens through a process of experience, reflection, application and consolidation,” explains Monisha Singh Diwan, Magic Bus’ Senior GM, Programme Development, “The use of a metaphor makes it easier for the child to connect the activity with their real life experiences and thus makes learning more relevant.”
13-year-old Anu studies in the seventh standard and belongs to a family of four. Both her parents are farmers. In months where their crops fail, they work in others' lands as agricultural labourers. Anu's elder brother is 17 years old and studies in the tenth standard.
The story unfolds in the year 2011 when Anu had just joined Magic Bus.
Anu found it difficult to control her temper.There were instances where without any provocation, she would fly into rage. All her teammates where upset with her and drew away from her.
Our mentors sat with Anu, counselling her on the need to overcome her anger issue. She agreed but was clueless how to do so. That is where the sessions came to her rescue. Through the sessions, she understood the need to respect others and their emotions. She felt she had hurt so many people with her anger.
This realisation was the breakthrough moment for Anu. Gradually, with a lot of effort, she started behaving cordially with others. She has made a small group of friends since then.
A few of the areas of behaviour change addressed by Magic Bus volunteers and mentors include:
Sessions take place at 3pm on Thursdays in this community.
Magic Bus interacts with children during these sessions using the following structure:
Off the training field, we supplement our activities by working with the Wandhari community. Besides regular meetings with children and parents, we hold rallies, cleanliness drives and community-wide sporting events aimed at empowering and strengthening this community as a whole.