Where We Work
Right now, Magic Bus is working with over 391,000 children and young people across four countries in South Asia: India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. We believe that our special methodology, using physical activity and mentoring to help children live happier, more prosperous lives, can be applied universally. This is because all children, regardless of nationality, background, creed or caste, love to play, and it is through play that we instil our most important lessons.
Magic Bus has grown so much since it started out in 1999, and because we believe Magic Bus can work anywhere, we don’t plan to stop growing any time soon! But for now, please have a look below to discover more about where Magic Bus is working today.
Over 115,000,000 Indian children are living in poverty (1). Without some form of intervention, most will remain in poverty their whole lives. Most will never complete school, with only 70% ever attending Primary or Secondary School (2), forced to take up work or marriage at young age with over 10 million child labourers (3) and 27% of girls married before the age of 18 (4). Today, over 8 million children are living in slums (5), a number that is only set to get bigger.
In addition to this, right almost 23 million young people are struggling to find work (6).
Magic Bus in India
Magic Bus started work in 1999, working with just a small group of young people in Mumbai. Today, we work with over 375,000 children across 22 of India’s 29 States. Our sessions are led by over 5,500 Community Youth Volunteers, young people who have committed to improving their communities and serving as role models to their peers.
Our impact has been clear:
98% of Magic Bus children regularly attend school
95% Magic Bus Girls or Young Women do not get married before the age of 18
82% of Magic Bus children believe that it is just as important to invest in a girl’s future as a boy’s
Our Livelihood Programme is continuing to grow too, with over 3,000 young people placed in sustainable work or education.
- Ending Extreme Poverty: A Focus on Children, UNICEF and the World Bank Group (2016)
- Annual Status of Education Report, ASER Centre (2017)
- FACT SHEET: Child Labour in India, International Labour Organisation (2017)
- UNICEF Child Marriage Database (2018)
- Forgotten Voices: The World of Urban Children in India, PwC and Save the Children (2015)
- CIA World Factbook India
Since 2016 Magic Bus has been working with over 2,700 school children in the Nawalparasi District of Nepal (around 70 miles west of the capital of Kathmandu). Our special programme in Nawalparsi is delivered in 18 local schools and is aimed at children around 12 years of age, with a particular focus on girls.
Why such a specific group of children? Our programme is targeting those children about to make the transition from primary school to secondary school, a transition that is difficult anywhere in the world but is particularly difficult in Nepal. In Nawalparasi alone, only 54% of adolescents will attend secondary school; most will drop out long before completion, some will never bother attending in the first place. By targeting those children about to complete primary school we’re instilling the importance of education to those who need it most, encouraging them to continue going to school and helping them develop the resilience neccessary to thrive in the future.
Magic Bus started work in Bangladesh in 2017 with the Eco Social Development Organisation, a local NGO working towards creating a more equitable society in Bangladesh. Together we’re working with 2,000 children in the district of Thakurgaon, way up in the northern tip of Bangladesh. Our programme there is aimed at children between nine and ten years old, teaching them important life and personal management skills. Additionally, we’re working directly with local communities, teachers and parents, to build stronger community cohesion and ensure the lessons learnt remain sustainable.
The district of Thakurgaon is a very rural area and, like much of Bangladesh, it’s economy is mainly based on agriculture. But due to its location on the fringes of Bangladesh, it suffers from a lack of investment or a proper social safety net. For example, only 30% of homes have access to electricity and over 70% of families do not have access to sanitary toilet facilities. School attendance is low: 40% of children and adolescents don’t attend school as boys are often expected to work and girls are expected to take up household duties.
Magic Bus began work in Myanmar in 2016 with the Dulwich International School’s Foundation. Together we’re working with over 1,000 children in Thanlyin Township, a small region on the opposite side of the Bago River from Myanmar’s capital of Yangon. Similar to our programme in India, our work in Myanmar aims to empower children, encouraging them to attend school and giving them the necessary tools to escape poverty and live prosperous lives. While our presence there is small today, we will soon double the number of children we work with as we introduce the programme into nearby Hlaing Thayar Township.
In Myanmar, around 60% of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day and 6 in 10 children will drop out of secondary school, forced to take up work on small-hold farms or as casual labourers to help support their families.