Kanchan Kunj in Madanpur Khadar is located a kilometer from Delhi’s southernmost bridge across the Yamuna, the Kalindi Kunj. It is an unauthorised colony and home to 300 families. The road leading up to this small slum community is unpaved and all homes are shanties made of old flex materials that people scavenge from roadside ads and corrugated sheets. No running water is available in the area. The residents fill up their 30-litre water cans whenever government water tankers pass by the area. Many residents have illegally connected their homes to the electricity grid. Needless to say, the households face acute shortage of both water and electricity all through the year, and more acutely so in Delhi’s harsh summer months.
Most of the people here work in rubber workshops nearby. Many children in the community are involved in rag-picking to help supplement the household income. The average monthly income of a family is approximately Rs. 3,000-4,000, or a mere Rs. 26 per day – less than half the international poverty line (the World Bank deems anyone earning lesser than $1.25 below the poverty line). Illiteracy rates are high and almost 40% of the children don’t go to school. Those who do go are irregular and have a tendency to drop out soon.
Gender inequality in the community is quite visible. Women are not allowed to venture out much and as a result, girls too do not get opportunities to learn and get a sound education. The crime rate is high and residents feel that the locality is not very safe for women.
Magic Bus started its programme in Kanchan Kunj in November 2012. At the moment, there are 375 children in this community, with enrolment of girls at 35%. A number of activities are organised in the community. There was a Drawing Competition for children in February 2014, an athletics tournament in March and a girls’ kho-kho tournament in April. Parents’ meetings are held twice a month. Yash Pal Sharma, 26, is the Training and Monitoring Officer in charge of Kanchan Kunj. He is assisted by Youth Mentor, Mohan, 23, and 13 Community Youth Leaders, of which seven are girls.
Sessions are held here every weekend with a good 85% attendance. Sessions are divided into three parts:
(Photographs from Magic Bus areas of operation are used for representation only)