20-year-old Suryakant dreams to be a businessman and take his parents on a world trip.
‘My father is a cobbler; my mother, a home-maker. We were a family of five – two sisters and I – living on a meagre income of Rs 3000 per month. But, no matter how bad the financial struggles, my parents never compromised on my education’, he narrates, ‘That’s why I want to be a rich businessman and take them around the world. They have not seen anything beyond our 7 * 10 room in the dingy lanes of Dharavi’s Kala Killa’.
Suryakant is pursuing a BCom degree at the Ambedkar College in Mumbai; and is simultaneously employed at Rhapsody, an international company, as a business developer. On Saturdays, every week, he trains all those who are a part of Magic Bus Football Team (MBFT).
This brings us to his other passion, football.
“ I was always passionate about sports, particularly football. It was this that drew me to Magic Bus. I attended a Magic Bus camp and it was fun. There are no open grounds in my community so it was a great thing to go out and play. I liked the camp so much that I started going for the sessions. A bus used to come to our neighbourhood to pick up all the children. We would go to Shivaji Park in Dadar for the sessions. Those were the best days of my life”, Suryakant remembers, fondly.
Even to this day, a bus comes to his neighbourhood to pick up the children for the sessions.” If I happen to be in the neighbourhood when the bus comes to pick up the children, I can still feel the thrill and enthusiasm of boarding it knowing that there would be something exciting waiting for us at the destination.” The thrill of running towards a goal, dodging opponents, air whipping through the air is something that he cherishes still. So, in his spare time, he instructs boys and girls on playing football. “They are my students and I am incredibly proud of them. I have 11-12 girls on that side and seeing them play gives me a great sense of accomplishment.”
“My association with Magic Bus is more than just sports. We lost everything to the Mumbai floods once. We didn’t know how to get it all back –the roof on top of our head, my father’s livelihood. It was at this moment of misfortune that Magic Bus stood by me with all the help that my family needed at that hour”, he shares.
Managing work, education, and sports at the same time can be pretty taxing. Not so for Suryakant, who remains unfazed even with multiple equally-pressing responsibilities. “I learnt time management at Magic Bus’ Connect classes. It was here that I also learnt how to go through and interview, how to speak in English, and other communication skills”, he replies after being quizzed about his excellent spoken skills. He shares an anecdote where he his confidence and communication skills helped him clinch the job among other interviewees who were better groomed than he was.
The unmistakable confidence in his voice tells us that here is a person who sees more than just his dream. He knows how to reach there and is open to facing the challenges on the way.
Suryakant is more than just a peer leader. He holds out to hope to millions of youth in this country and world who regularly lose their dreams in the relentless maze of poverty.
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