Magic Bus in Nepal, Bangladesh & Myanmar

In 1999, Magic Bus began as a small voluntary association that worked with a group of young people in Mumbai. Close to 20 years later, Magic Bus is now working with almost 400,000 kids in 21 of India’s 29 states, from Tamil Nadu on the southern coast, to Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayas. Our work has been a huge success in India, helping to put thousands of children and young people onto a path out of poverty and towards sustainable, positive lives. With this in mind, we’ve begun to look beyond India to countries that can also benefit from Magic Bus’ special sport and mentoring curriculum. So, over the past three years, hand-in-hand with our partners, Magic Bus has begun to work in neighbouring Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Since mid-2016, with the support of travel company Cox & Kings, Magic Bus has been delivering our Childhood to Livelihood programme to primary schools in the Nawalparasi District, around 70 miles west of Kathmandu. With a special focus on girls, Magic Bus is aiming to help support kids making the transition from primary school to secondary school. In any country, regardless if it’s the UK, USA, India or China, this transition can be difficult and problematic for children but in Nepal it’s even worse. While 80% of kids in Nepal will start secondary school, around half will drop out before they finish. Right now, over a million adolescents in Nepal aren’t attending school, half of whom are girls. Why? For most children, there is an expectation that they must work and support their family rather than attend school. Additionally, many parents don’t trust Nepali secondary schools. For girls there is the additional horrors of child marriage, with 36% married before the age of 18.

 Matthew inaugurates our programme in Bangladesh with EDSO

Matthew Spacie inaugurates our programme in Bangladesh with EDSO in 2017

 

In Bangladesh, Magic Bus has partnered with the Eco Social Development Organisation (ESDO), a local charity committed to encouraging strong social and emotional development in rural areas of Bangladesh. Together we are working in 10 government schools in the Thakurgaon District of northern Bangladesh where we are using the Magic Bus curriculum to teach important life and personal management skills to around 2,000 kids aged nine and ten. In addition, ESDO and Magic Bus are working in those school’s local communities, with parents and teachers, to help build stronger community cohesion and ensure the lessons we instill are sustainable. Why Bangladesh? Currently 73% of the population live on less than £1.90 a day and only 50% of adolescents will attend secondary school. Thakurgaon in particular suffers from a lack of investment or a proper social safety net due to its remote location out on the fringe of Bangladesh.

 

In Myanmar, Magic Bus is working with The Dulwich College International Schools Foundation (DCISF), charitable arm of Dulwich College International. As DCISF’s first charitable initiative, we are running the Magic Bus programme for 2,500 children in the townships of Thanlyin and Hlaingtharya, both just outside Myanmar’s capital of Yangon.
In Myanmar, over 60% of the country live on less than £1.90 a day and problems such as infant mortality and malnutrition are severe. While enrolment in primary school is high, 6 in 10 children will drop out during secondary school, forced into work on small-hold farms or as casual labourers.

 

The problems in Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar are familiar, but each with their own local characteristics that make those problems unique. With our experience working in a country as diverse as India, we know that the Magic Bus programme has both the flexibility to meet local needs and the effectiveness to handle local problems. With your support, Magic Bus will continue to grow in these new countries and help thousands more children and young people in South East Asia find a path out of poverty.

 

 
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