The experience which followed stepping on board (literally and figuratively) for an internship with Magic Bus in Delhi was something more than what I had anticipated. Holding a small badge in my hand, I couldn’t understand back then what the shiny, red bus symbolized suspended there in the yellow reflective plastic. After pinning it to my back pack, I stepped out onto the slick wet roads intrinsic to Delhi’s monsoon season, and approached my first Magic Bus session.
These lessons promote personal hygiene, gender equality, the importance of education and finishing school past the twelfth standard. This is done through engaging students in interactive activities. Community Youth Leaders (CYLs), as the adolescent/ young leaders from the children’s communities are called, encourage the children to work together and achieve different objectives.
For many children and youth, Magic Bus represents not only a path to dignified living, but rather an implicit effort to give those who have been marginalized beyond recognition, a chance at life. I have come from an admittedly privileged background, and currently attend New York University in New York City for Global Public Health and Communications. I have always had enough to eat, always had a roof over my head, and have always been guaranteed a desk in the school classroom every coming September. Receiving a high school diploma was an opportunity that I viewed more as a burden - a stepping stone to better things – rather than a grand achievement.
But, for many children I read about, met and played with in Delhi, their relationship with education was that of utmost importance, one of surprising dedication at times. Education is the tool that divides the undignified and the dignified, it defines the life these children will lead.
As many have said, Delhi is unlike any other place on earth. It resides in a spectrum of its own. Nothing can compare to the driving, the smells, the colours and the collision of human existence that inhabits the unique city. From an objective, or possibly entirely subjective viewpoint, Delhi can come across as utterly chaotic, completely unapologetic and apathetic. However, at a closer glance, amidst the chaos lie countless organizations and individuals working to loosen the knots of social unrest and smooth the jagged edges of this ever-growing city. One of these organizations is Magic Bus.
Walking through the sodden grass as the sun protruded through the clouds, I was apprehensive and excited about my first session. As a crucial cornerstone of the Magic Bus mission, each session serves as a time to teach slum children life skills and lessons that may be lacking in other aspects of their lives.
Boys and girls held each other’s hands tightly as they jumped through chalk-drawn shapes on the dew-filled grass during an interactive session, which focused on teamwork. Their laughter filled the enclosed park, being the testimony to a lesson well learnt.
My eyes began to see, and to understand, the happiness and growth that this hour of educational play allowed these children. This time served as a break from the unfathomable pressures these young children face. During this hour these children were not the primary provider to their parents, school drop-outs, potential child-brides, or a marginalized member of society, they were simply children. A kid just like I was when I was ten or eleven, playful and indulgent.
Behind the unfathomable will for social good and progression to livelihood that Magic Bus stands for, lies the simplicity of human interaction and the ambition for dignified work that every human being strives for.
Magic Bus gets on board children and youth across age, gender, religion and caste, and drive them towards a brighter future.
By: Charlotte Moore
Magic Bus Volunteer