An Evening with Magic Bus UK

An Evening with Magic Bus UK

Last month, we were delighted to welcome the members of the Magic Bus UK Giving Circles, and a number of our other supporters, to the Conduit Club in London to share how their support is transforming lives across India.

 Following an introduction from UK Board Member Ruby Parmar, we heard from Magic Bus’ Parvati Pujari. Parvati shared with us her inspiring story of growing up in poverty in Mumbai, seeing her elder sisters married off at a young age and how she faced the same fate herself, her future taken away from her. But with Magic Bus’ support, Parvati was able to avoid becoming trapped in a child marriage, was allowed to continue her education, and leave poverty behind. Today, Parvati plays an important role managing Magic Bus’ international partnerships and serves as a role model and inspiration for girls and young women facing the same challenges and barriers that she has successfully overcome.

We also had the pleasure to hear from Chandrajit Chakraborty of Pearl Diver Capital, the latest organisation to join Magic Bus’ family of corporate partners. Mr. Chakraborty spoke of how important it is for companies like Pearl Diver to give back to the communities they are connected to, and how inspired he and the Pearl Diver team were seeing the difference Magic Bus is making for marginalised children in Kolkata. Thanks to Pearl Diver’s support, over 2,000 children living in poverty in Kolkata will receive life changing support.

We would like to thank everyone who attended this wonderful evening, to our speakers Ruby Parmar, Parvati Pujari and Chandrajit Chakraborty, and we look forward to seeing everyone again at our future events.

Parvati & Magic Bus UK Trustee Sanjay Jawa

Mrinalini’s Story

Mrinalini's Story - Every Child Deserves Support

In the city of Guwahati in the eastern Indian state of Assam, a group of boys and girls gather in an open field. Using chalk lines and wooden sticks, they created imaginary stones across a fantastical river of flames. Hand-in-hand, they carefully crossed the terrible river using the stepping stones for safety. This is one of Magic Bus’ special games called the “Five Passes”, an exciting adventure that helps teach communication, problem solving, and teamwork skills, as everyone works together to cross the flaming river. Among those taking part is a teenage girl called Mrinalini, and activities like the River of Flames are transforming her life in ways she never thought possible before.

15-year-old Mrinalini has an incredible passion for creativity. From painting to singing to dancing, she loves to express herself. She even designed posters that were used to promote water conservation at her local Magic Bus summer camp sessions. But Mrinalini struggled in school. Like many children around the world, she simply learned at a different pace from everyone else. But rather than recognising her different needs, Mrinalini’s teachers simply recommended to her parents that she withdraw from school, crushing her confidence and hopes for the future.

Magic Bus learned about Mrinalini’s struggles at school during a “Sit, Breathe, Think” activity during a session. Sit, Breathe, Think (SBT) is an opportunity for participants to reflect, discuss, and learn about the lessons and skills being taught in that particular Magic Bus session, and it was here that the Magic Bus mentors learned about Mrinalini’s growing reluctance to go to school. It quickly became clear that she needed additional support. After several home visits to speak with Mrinalini’s parents, her learning difficulties became apparent, and so meetings with her teachers were organised. Mrinalini’s Magic Bus mentors helped her teachers recognise that she needed additional support. As a result, both her confidence and academic performance has begun to improve.

Today, thanks to the intervention made by Magic Bus, and special activities like “Five Passes”, Mrinalini’s confidence is greater than ever. No longer afraid to ask her friends, family or teachers for help when needed, her problem-solving skills and self-assuredness continue to grow, and she’s now begun to think positively about what her future might hold.

“Today, I understand that people have different grasping abilities and learning pace, and I no longer feel ashamed. I’m grateful to Magic Bus for bringing this awareness to my school and community. I now excel in teamwork at school and have grand aspirations to support children like me in my community.”

Sahil’s Story

Sahil's Story - Finding His Future

It’s a journey that’s familiar to young people around the world: leaving their rural home behind in in hope of finding better prospects, better jobs, better futures, in the city. This is no easy journey, and too many will fall by the wayside, trapped in poverty because they don’t have the education, skills or support they need to succeed. For 21-year-old Sahil, his story might have ended the same way, were it not for Magic Bus.

Sahil grew up in a region of India known as the Konkan, a long stretch of land running down India’s western coast from Mumbai to Goa. His family are farmers, and together with his parents they toiled in their single field every day to pull together an income that was barely sufficient on which to survive.

Meeting our basic needs was a constant struggle for my family as our combined annual income was only Rs 100,000” (just over £900 a year), Sahil shares, reminiscing about his early days.

Like many other young people his age, Sahil decided that the
best way to support his family was to move to the big city, to Mumbai, where he could find a job that would provide a sustainable income. Along with his older brother, Sahil moved into a Chawl, a type of low-quality tenement closely associated with poverty that are found all over Mumbai. Unfortunately, despite his boundless enthusiasm to find a job, Sahil had no idea even where to begin. Without guidance, Sahil would likely remain trapped in unemployment, just like almost a quarter of all other young people in India.

As luck would have it, Sahil had made a friend who was familiar with the local Magic Bus Livelihood Programme, and he  recognised the opportunity it provided.

“Magic Bus was a turning point in my life. It’s where I found the support and guidance I needed.”

Sahil was eager from day one, always recognisable by his
smiling face in the front row. But there were still challenges to be overcome. To begin with, Sahil struggled to open up during sessions, fearful for being judged for his rural background. But with the support of his Magic Bus trainers and his classmates on the programme, Sahil’s communication skills improved, and
his self-confidence began to soar. As well as learning to open up, Sahil developed interview, teambuilding and communication skills. “I started doing self-study, submitted assignments on time, and actively participated in every session,” he shared.

With the help of the Livelihood Programme, Sahil was able to get an interview with Reliance Footwear, a subsidiary of Reliance, India’s largest retailer. After just a single interview, Sahil was immediately offered a job as Customer Care Executive and now earns over Rs 140,000 a year (around £1,350), a salary that will help Sahil not only start his journey out of poverty but also allows Sahil to achieve his goal of supporting his family.

“Magic Bus helped me bridge the gap, transforming my fear into confidence. They not only taught me skills but helped me present myself better. Magic Bus not only changed my life but also my family’s.”


A Visit from the All England Lawn Tennis Club

A Visit from the All England Tennis Club

Magic Bus was thrilled to welcome members of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) to the Delhi Gymkhana Club in November, providing members of the AELTC an opportunity to see for themselves the impact that the Magic Bus & Wimbledon Foundation programme has had on children living in poverty in Delhi. It was also an opportunity for a few games of tennis!

Led by the All England Club’s own Head Coach, Dan Bloxham, AELTC members took part in activities with children from some of the communities where Magic Bus and the Wimbledon Foundation currently work. Thanks to Dan’s infectious energy, the children connected with him from the word go, and enjoyed a memorable two hours learning tennis skills from one of British Tennis’ most influential figures.

While sharing all sorts of tips and advice Dan also tested their skills, and was impressed with the children’s eagerness to learn, their sense of discipline both on and off the court, and with their confidence as they teamed up with other AELTC members, including Czech tennis legend Jan Kodes,
champion of both Wimbledon and the French Open.

Coming from communities that struggle to offer even the most basic facilities, the children left their challenges behind and walked onto the court with nothing but a positive attitude and their passion to learn. Their respect for the opportunity and their willingness to collaborate were a positive reflection of the kind mindset that Magic Bus works to instil in all the children it works with.

As Dan himself said: “We were delighted today with how the children behaved, their attitude, their characters were lovely. The respect they showed each other was something that we need to learn more. For the members of the club, this would be the best part of the tour.”

The event was a testament to the success of Magic Bus’ partnership with the Wimbledon Foundation in Delhi, which now enters its 9th year and continues to grow, reaching more children in need of support.

As well as using tennis to deliver the Magic Bus curriculum to both children and young people, community based tennis sessions are taking place that are helping our young volunteers and mentors earn accreditation as tennis coaches, some of whom have even gone on to take it up as a career, coaching in clubs and schools. To date, over 4,000 children and young people have taken part in the programme, and we’ll soon begin training teachers to deliver the special curriculum during school hours too.

This has been a fantastic partnership for Magic Bus with a funder who has been really engaged and keen to build on the grant year on year. In 2015 the grant was £25,000 for a year and as we enter the 9th year of funding the scale and ambition of the project has exceeded anything that we thought possible at the beginning, with a new grant for £100,000 being provided to further grow the programme and make an even bigger difference for children and young people living in poverty in Delhi.

Declaration of Team India Cobras @ The Street Child Cricket World Cup 2023

Declaration of Team India Cobras

@ The Street Child Cricket World Cup

Chennai, India, 2023

Street Child & MB Logos

We demand safety, education, equality and a voice for all!

We are Team India Cobras, young citizens of Mumbai. We represent other young people in our community and want to share our stories. In our experience, we do not enjoy all of our rights we are entitled to due to the following issues:

Give us access to healthcare!
We only have small clinics which do not have enough doctors, and for emergencies the closest hospital is 5km away. There is only one ambulance available 24/7.
The government should open up hospitals which are more accessible.

Let us learn!
The closest school is 4km away. To access our education and get to
school, there are two options: a dangerous walk or unreliable bus.
We want a Government school to be opened in our area.

Give us opportunities!
15% of children stay at home as they have no job. If you go to university you still do not get equal access to private jobs.
There should be no locality discrimination in hiring processes and open more local companies.

Give us equal respect!
Girls are not given equal respect compared to boys. Marriage for girls happens as early as 15 years old and there is an expectation that they then become home makers. What’s more, boys and girls are not allowed to talk freely with each other without judgment from the community.
We need more agents of change in the community who will develop a more open minded culture.

Keep us safe on the streets and roads!
Lots of accidents occur due to encroachment on the roads by street hawkers and garbage cans.
We want the roads to be widened, the number of street lights and footpaths increased, and better policing.

Healthcare is World Care, Boys Care is Girls Care.
We Care, Please All Care!

To Chennai & Back – The Street Child Cricket World Cup 2023

We have come so far as a cricket team originating from Bombay Port Trust community just a year ago.  We have trained as a team, learned lessons about leadership, gender equality, respect and kindness for each other and the experience of winning and losing with the many emotions which go along with those moments.  

We travelled on our first overnight train with 6 teams from across India (Delhi, Kolkata, Orissa) and a team from Mauritius.  We participated in art projects recording our train journey from the time we left our homes and our parents to the sights and sounds of spending 25 hours together, traveling 1,300 kilometres from the North West Coast to the South East Coast of India. With the train windows open, the monsoon rains and breeze kept us cool.  

An international team of film makers, documentarians and photographers recorded our journey from tearful start to joyous finish.  The creative team instructed our youths individually as they recorded the journey in an art project. 

Our food was delivered efficiently to the platforms along the way with the youths delighted by every bite. The night was lively ending by dancing in our bunks to the sounds of Team Mauritius playing the drums.

The monsoon rains and heat of Chennai could not dampen our spirits.  The World Cup bell was rung by the British High Commissioner and Deputy High Commissioner of Chennai with great ceremony as if Lord’s was hosting us once again. The tournament was played at Amir Mahal, the private grounds of the Prince of Arcot, with generous support from the Shree Dayaa Foundation as well as from Mrs. Latha Rajinikanth, Indian producer, singer and wife of actor Rajinikanth.

For 11 days we bowled, batted, and fielded all the while making new friends from 19 different teams originating in 13 different countries.  We heard new languages and music, watched team dances from around the world, but most importantly at the end of each evening danced with all the athlete and volunteers.  We even had our own “Cobra Dance”, our signature, when celebrating on and off the pitch. We lost, we won, all the while wiping tears of both disappointment and joy.  Most importantly, we tried our very best in supporting each other’s gender and abilities. When we lost we were comforted by our teammates and new friends.  

When our team was playing a crucial game against the strongest Indian team from Group C, our resilience, teamwork, competitiveness and sense of fair play were at the forefront. We won and celebrated by leaping for joy and dancing. We placed 5th out of 19 teams with our teammate Asif receiving the Golden Bat and MVP awards.  We celebrated him!  We celebrated us! We celebrated it all!  Sport for development is our mission and our  commitment of 25 years in the Bombay Port Trust community was front and centre stage just then.

Just as important as cricket are the Arts and Advocacy platforms. In closed door Congress sessions, we discussed and shared our thoughts on what changes we would like to see in our communities. 

We found new words to describe our feelings and our thoughts in our communities . We wanted to bring awareness in making our surroundings safer, healthier, and better informed while having better access to education and healthcare. We were interviewed by The Hindu newspaper, Your Story, digital media, and at the end of the tournament by ABP Nadu, the first Tamil digital only news platform with our youths speaking in both Tamil and Hindi. 

The Declaration of our Team Cobras at the Congress was
“Healthcare is world care, Boy’s care is girl’s care, We care, please all care!”  
The Voices of the Chennai Congress were loud and clear.  
“It is the implementation of rights that we seek, not the existence of them.”

The World Cup volunteers, 75 from 35 different countries, surrounded us with support when we needed it, as well as unconditional love and generosity of spirit. Our youths embraced their warmth each and every day.  How to say good bye?  An experience of a lifetime, a platform they never imagined, exposure to new young people, international adults and a new city.

The flight home was their first, the first time to look down from the skies, to raise their trophy in their hands high above the clouds and to be so proud of how far they have come.

We brought closure on our home field with discussions on lessons learned, how to use our new found confidence and feeling of freedom and how to raise our voices in our communities highlighting our demands. We did not come home with the Gold Cup this tournament as we did in 2019 but the lessons learned along the way were certainly platinum. 

As an organization, we know that these 8 youths will now be ambassadors of change in their community making Magic Bus, Bloomberg and Bombay Port Trust proud.

We, as street connected children, have been supported and encouraged to use this Street Child Cricket World Cup platform to be loud and proud as we raise our voices for all to hear. There is not a moment to waste.  

We demand change and we demand it now.
After all,
“I am Somebody, You Are Somebody, We Are All Somebody”.

The 2023 Street Child Cricket World Cup

The 2023 Street Child Cricket World Cup

The Street Child Cricket World Cup has come and gone once again. This year’s tournament was played in the Indian city of Chennai, featuring 7 teams from across India and 12 teams from around the world, including England, Uganda, South Africa, Nepal and Mexico, with every child that participated living in extreme poverty. Magic Bus was represented by eight children, four boys and four girls, from Mumbai, competing under the name Team India Cobras.

The tournament got off to a rough start for the Cobras, with the team losing their first two matches in the competition. But despite this initial setback, their unwavering confidence would be rewarded as the team started raking in runs and wickets to win their next four games, enough to finish 2nd in their group and qualify for the knockout stages. There they faced team Zimbabwe and, despite a heroic effort by the entire, the Cobras would sadly be defeated, ultimately finishing a highly respectable 5th out of 19. Zimbabwe would go on to be defeated in the final by a triumphant Uganda that had thoroughly dominated the tournament since day one.

In addition to the team finishing 5th, the Cobra’s own Asif would be awarded both the Golden Bat for scoring the most runs in the competition, and would also be named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player in recognition for his talent as both a bowler and a batsman.

The Street Child Cricket World Cup isn’t just a sporting event, of course. It’s an opportunity for children growing up in extreme poverty around the globe to come together and speak out, letting the world know about the challenges they face every day, and advocating for support that will make a difference. Together, the Voices of the Chennai Congress produced 19 declarations covering problems ranging from discrimination in healthcare, financial barriers to education, and ongoing gender discrimination. Now that the tournament has come to an end, the children will return home with these same declarations in hand, and continue to advocate for a better world.

Every child that participated in the Street Child World Cup is an inspiration, and we owe it to them to ensure that their voices are heard and that we help them, and all children like them, leave poverty behind. To help a child living in poverty in India get the support they need to find a brighter future, donate to Magic Bus UK today.

Introducing The Scale Programme

Introducing The Scale Programme

As part of Magic Bus’ ongoing efforts to help as many children in India as possible learn the skills and get the support they need to leave poverty behind, we’ve started working with India’s state governments to develop the Scale Programme.

Together with our state partners, we’re embedding the Magic Bus approach to personal development directly into school curriculums by training teachers to deliver the Magic Bus programme in classrooms and on school playgrounds.

So far we’ve started working with over 2,000 teachers at 1,000 schools in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Mahrashtra, Mizoram, Odisha and Rajasthan, and we expect even more states to follow. As a result, we are on course to reach over 3,000,000 children by early 2024.

Check out the video below to hear from the students themselves, from Mahrashtra to Mizoram, about the positive impact they’re experiencing thanks to Magic Bus and the Scale Programme.


2022-23 Financial Year Impact Round-Up

Magic Bus 2022/23 Impact Round-Up

2022/23 was a year of growth for Magic Bus as we continued to move on from the impact of COVID-19, help children and young people to recover from the economic and social effects of the Pandemic, and continued to reach out to more marginalised children and young people in need of support.

As of March of this year, Magic Bus is now working with over 475,000 children living in poverty all over India, using our special activity and mentoring based sessions to equip them with the skills, confidence, and support they to face life’s challenges and to leave poverty behind. We’ve also begun partnering with India’s state governments to provide training to teachers, so that they can deliver Magic Bus sessions directly on the school playground. In February of this year, we started a partnership with the state government of Andhra Pradesh that will see around 1.8 million 11 to 18 year olds benefit from Magic Bus sessions in school over the next three years.

Discover more about how Magic Bus is making an impact in schools by hearing from Arun, a teacher in Maharashtra:

In addition to our increased support for marginalised children, the Magic Bus Livelihood Programme is having a major impact on the lives of young people living in poverty as well. Over the past financial year, Magic Bus has helped over 95,000 disadvantaged young people find stable jobs, including 600 young women during the week of International Women’s Day, alone.

By helping young people find stable jobs, the programme is having an significant impact that reverberates beyond the Livelihood Graduates themselves. Our analysis found that the average starting salary for a Magic Bus Livelihood Graduate is $200 a month, compared to the national average of just $25. As a result, our graduates are not only lifting themselves out of poverty, but their entire families as well.

This year, Magic Bus plans to grow even further, using government partnerships, technology and support from people like you to reach even more children and young people living in poverty in India. You can make a difference today by donating to Magic Bus UK, and helping a child to leave poverty behind.

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