Magic Bus Foundation is an Indian not-for-profit company that harnesses the power of sports to enrich the lives of underprivileged children in India. Their goal is to empower marginalized children with tools to create a better and brighter future for themselves than what they were born into. The Magic Bus Foundation has regular sessions with the Armaan Club for the kids of the artisans at MarketPlace.
Millions of children live their entire childhoods without knowing the simple joys and pleasures of sports and games. India has the largest number of child laborers in the world and an alarming 35 % of children become part of the working population even before they turn 16.Magic Bus has worked with over 160,000 children and proven that sports can change lives. Through sports children learn to cooperate and compete, and learn the necessary skills to make independent decisions and accept responsibilities.
When we at Marketplace heard about Magic Bus Foundation we approached them to work with our kids. Says Renuka Sutar, 24, Mentor at Magic Bus, “No organization had ever invited us to come and work with kids. Normally we would have to reach out to children from different parts of Mumbai and convince them to participate in their programs. But this was the first request of its kind. So we obviously jumped at the opportunity!”
Renuka has seen many changes in the kids at Marketplace since she started mentoring them. “At first there was a trust issue”, she says, “but soon the kids started opening up to the mentors and started sharing their stories with them. We at Magic Bus believe in giving equal opportunities to kids everywhere. In our country there is very little space for children who are less privileged. Even a simple thing like finding a field to play football in is a luxury for most of the kids we work with.” Renuka and the other mentors faced some challenges in their work with the Marketplace kids but the changes in the behavior of the children, in how they talk to each other, not littering, etc. “We have seen some great friendships grow in front of us and sensitivity to kids with special abilities has increased.”
Suman, who has a slower speed of learning and comprehension than average, was treated very unkindly by a lot of the kids and mostly never included in games because of his special needs. But working with Magic Bus has seen an amazing transformation in the way kids treat him. The mentors taught the kids to not only include Suman in the games but also to ask him for his feedback after every game. It is now a tradition to go up to Suman after each session and ask him what he felt.
Shraddha Gupta, 13, loves her time with Magic Bus and never misses a session. Says Shraddha, “We play all sorts of games when we get together with Magic Bus- football, cricket, current pass and leg cricket etc. I have learnt so much about myself after starting these sessions. Everyone is treated with love and respect on the field and we are like a family. I wouldn’t miss a Magic Bus session for the world!”
Salman Patni, also 13, speaks of his time with Magic Bus with great excitement. He says, “This is the one place where everyone is treated equally. There is never any teasing or bullying. I was always a huge cricket fan but I learnt football after coming here and now I have two favorite sports which I am quite skilled at.”
At present the kids are looking forward to an overnight camp with Magic Bus. Find out what fun experiences the kids have at this camp in our next few posts!