Pahadi ground is a small area within B-Block in Sangam Vihar, located in south Delhi near Nanki School.
There are around 2,500 residents here. Most work as labourers, cobblers, shop keepers, hawkers and security personnel. Many women work as house maids and men work as drivers in the nearby Sainik Farm area, a very posh locality in South Delhi.
Most houses in Pahadi Ground are pukka and are equipped with toilets. There are a few kuccha houses too. Families living in these have no access to toilets and have to resort to open defecation in empty plots nearby.
There is a major water crisis in the community. More often than not, the locality doesn’t get water for up to 20 days at a stretch. Delhi tankers provide water, but these are irregular. This water arrangement is extremely inadequate for the families living in Pahadi Ground.
There is no proper drainage system in the locality either. Drains are left open and often get clogged and overflow into the already narrow streets. Open drains are also nesting grounds for mosquitoes which is an even bigger problem.
The sanitation system in this community is also very poor. People dump garbage everywhere, because of which there are no open spaces in the community.
When Magic Bus started operations in Pahadi Ground in 2012, the first issue the team had to deal with was finding a ground to conduct sport for development sessions as there are no playgrounds in the locality. The team then found an open plot and sessions were held here.
Currently, there are around 56 children, of which only 23 are girls. Of these, around 23 are girls. The two Community youth Leaders in charge of sessions here are 20-year-old Rinku and 21-year-old Aftab.
Although she is among the younger children in the Magic Bus programme, at age 11, Sneha Kumari already leads other older children during sessions and activities.
Sneha has five sisters and one brother. Two of her sisters are married and the rest are in school. Sneha is the youngest of the seven siblings and is currently in Std 4. She used to be very shy and introverted. She was regular to school but wouldn’t participate in any activities or sports. This was also partly because of the rampant gender inequality in the community.
After initial reluctance, Sneha’s parents finally allowed her to participate in the Magic Bus programme. But even after her parents agreed, Sneha was very reluctant to participate in any of the activities.
After months of regular counselling, the Youth Mentors noticed a lot of change in her behaviour. She went from being one of the most introverted children in the group to the most active footballer. In a very short time, she excelled at football and handball. She participated in all the sporting tournaments and even started leading in sessions.
Now, the 11-year-old takes charge of sessions attended by 14-year-olds. Her parents are immensely happy with her improvement and are sure she has a bright future in sports. Sneha is a role model for many of the kids in her community who are still struggling with gender bias.
Gender bias in the community is very high. The community has very strict rules against girls and boys playing together. This was the major obstacle that the staff faced during the initiation. But regular meetings were held with parents, and they’ve slowly opened up to the idea of educating their daughters and letting them play. Interaction between the two genders is still limited, but the situation has improved considerably.
There was very low awareness about health and hygiene in the community. The Magic Bus team worked towards changing this and conducted meetings with parents, asking their help to clean up the neighbourhood. This proved to be effective as many parents participated and helped clean up parts of the neighbourhood.
Sport for Development sessions last for two hours each and are conducted in three stages:
(Photographs from Magic Bus areas of operation are used for representation only.)