On 17th December 2012, at 10.30 am a small and visibly excited motley group of people sat down to a conversation that marked the beginning of a new phase in the Magic Bus journey. The Magic Bus Aajeevika Margadarshan Kendra is the organisation’s attempt to reach out to youth who may not have had the opportunity to be part of the core ten year programme, but who do need the guidance and mentoring crucial to help them move from childhood to livelihood. The centre is part of a pilot project led by the Programme Development Unit, with Masood coordinating the Mumbai initiative.
Set in a corner of the sprawling BPT slum is a shuttered space, 15 x 15 feet, with a metal shutter and a small office space on the first floor. Already, it has been marked off as a Magic Bus space, thanks to an incredible effort from the administration team in Mumbai (especially Azeem and Vivek) – it is clean, painted, there are neat chairs and laptops ready for students, electrical wires are being tidied up and sealed. Significantly, Magic Bus did not stop with the center itself – the area outside was a garbage dump last week. On Sunday morning it was almost a play space!
The inauguration was attended by Magic Bus staff including our community coordinators, peer leaders and members from our Parents’ Collective. Sindhu had through extensive follow ups ensured that the Corporator of the area, Mrs Samita Naik attended the inauguration with several of her party workers. Masood initiated the process, inviting the group to sit together to discuss challenges that young people in the area face in accessing livelihood options. In the highly engaged discussion that ensued, community members shared their thoughts and experiences freely. Some of the comments and sharings that emerged from the discussion are:
Shanti and Pravina shared the work done by Magic Bus over the past twelve years in BPT focusing on the
long term engagements with children and parents, and the intensive mentoring that has enabled Magic
Bus to be seen as a friend and guide for young people.
Drawing from the sharings of the group, the Connect Pilot was then introduced:
Duration: 3 months
Age Group: for youth close to the age of 18 and above
1. Mon-Wed- Fri
2. Tues- Thurs-Sat
Sport for Development sessions for both batches to be held on Sunday
Timings: 6 – 9 pm
Through this explanation, it became clear that the plan of the pilot has emerged from the needs and requirements of the community itself. The centre will therefore be seen as a responsive and reliable space for community youth who seek to make improved livelihood choices.
The Corporator, Mrs Naik, showed a keen interest in the centre, offering the assistance of her party workers in mobilizing youth and directing them to the centre. She also invited the Magic Bus team to a centre that trains women in vocational skills at Cotton Green. She mentioned the possibility of directing women and youth to the BPT centre from other areas.
The high sense ownership and interest shown in the inauguration of this centre is a source of great encouragement for the entire Magic Bus team. There is a level of trust and enthusiasm associated with the organization that is both an inspiration and a call to accountability.
By: Havovi Wadia
Head-Research & Development