Magic Bus' mission is to empower vulnerable children, youth, and communities in India in the areas of education, gender, health, leadership and livelihood using sport as a development tool. For us empowerment means enhancing an individual's or group's capacity to make choices and transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes. We use a sports and activity-based learning platform to achieve development goals.
Sep 6, 2013

Happy Feet and Leadership in Mumbra

Having a Ball!
Having a Ball!

Eighteen-year-old Zia Mansoori (name changed) looks forward to Sunday afternoons. Leaving home on the pretext of college-related work, she meets up with 20 others who have assembled in a room. They slip out of their hijabs, don t-shirts, long socks and shoes and it’s football time.

Encouraged by NGO Magic Bus, these Mumbra girls began their kicking pastime in October last. The game has since become, for them, a metaphor for freedom rather than a mere sport.

Girls playing this male-dominated sport are no longer a rare sight. But in this Muslim ghetto of Mumbra, it is no ordinary feat. Located on the outskirts of Mumbai, this township is home to a large population of communal-riots refugees. Twenty-four per cent of its women are illiterate, 92% don’t work and 28% are married before the age of 17 (Mumbra-a Status Report —TISS, 2011).

Zia’s family doesn’t know she plays football. To preclude confrontation, she finishes her share of household chores — cooking, cleaning and caring for her 2-month-old sister — before leaving for football training. Besides her parents, Zia has four brothers and two sisters. “Abba thinks girls have to stay at home so I don’t tell him I play. He doesn’t even want me to study but I fight and go to college,” she says.

Magic Bus initially intended to train 14-17-year-olds from Mumbra in football. But after the girls voiced their concern about playing alongside boys, the NGO made an exception. It decided to exclusively train girls of all age-groups here. Masood Akhtar, a member of Magic Bus, is the coach.

Aliya Shaikh (16) has got her father’s support but faces resistance from her three brothers and mother. “My father says this is my age for fun and play even though my brothers try to stop me,” she says. Most of the girls’ parents work in the unorganised sector. In many cases, they are single parents. A majority of the girls study through correspondence, as they eke out a living on the side.

If assembling enough girls to constitute a game of football was a challenge, making them stay on was far more complex. “We started distributing pamphlets in schools and colleges urging girls to come for training. Forty girls signed up but the enthusiasm petered out. We are now left with a team of 20 girls,” says Saba from the Forum Against Oppression of Women, one of the social workers. “Finding a ground was difficult too. Finally, we approached a temple trust which agreed to give us a ground that belonged to them.”

Girls’ entry into the grounds has already changed mindsets. Today, Mumbra has even seen a tournament between girls and boys. “Earlier, the boys didn’t let us play on the ground where they played cricket. Now, we play together. We recently had a mixed cricket and football tournament with them,” said Muskan Sayyad, a Class 10 student whose father encourages her to play as a recreation from studies.

For the oldest player, Kausar Ansari (33), Sunday sessions are a stress-buster, especially after her recent divorce. “I would just watch the young girls play until I couldn’t resist stepping onto the field. Now there is no stepping back,” she says. Her 14-year-old son often comes to watch.

Now, equipped with a certain level of skill, fortitude and heightened self-esteem, the girls want to enter professional football. “We want to have our own club and maybe call it the Mumbra Girls Football Club,” says Fatima Mirza (20), who plays the game despite severe opposition from home.

Experiental Learning
Experiental Learning
Overcoming stereotypes!
Overcoming stereotypes!
Jun 7, 2013

Incredible Story of Empowerment - Parvati Pujari

Parvati with the prizes she has won over the years
Parvati with the prizes she has won over the years

"I, Parvati Pujari, am a National Junior Trainer with Magic Bus in Mumbai. My struggle to reach where I am today is a story worth sharing."

I was born on 16th August 1990 at Bhabha Hospital in Mumbai. This was a first for my mother – her three first children, my elder sisters, had all been born in the slums she lived in at the time. I was the first one to be born in a hospital.  My father worked on a construction site as a mason, and my mother looked after me and my six siblings. We didn’t have a home to call our own. Mostly we moved from slum to slum near the different construction sites where my father would be employed. After my youngest sister was born, we were nine members in the family and it was getting impossible for us to survive on just one income. So my mother also started working for a living. During that time my father was a construction labourer in a huge upcoming complex named Phoenix Mills in Lower Parel. My eldest sister never went to school, she was in charge while my parents worked. 

My parents did not really think education was important, not when getting the next meal was of utmost priority, so none of my elder sisters went to school. A small NGO named Sunbeam taught me basics like alphabets and numbers in Hindi. We loved the teachers there because unlike at school, these volunteer teachers paid a lot of personal attention to each child and ensured that their concepts were clear. My curiosity and enthusiasm made me continue attending the classes. My younger sisters used to tag along too.  My eldest sister was married off at an early age of 12. If only she had been educated or received proper guidance as I did later in my life, she could have been saved from child marriage.

One day, Sunbeam took us on a three-day excursion organised by an NGO called Magic Bus. It was a unique experience for me – I had never been on a picnic before. Those three days I still remember as absolute magic playing and learning with friends in a safe environment. It was here that I understood the meaning of bonding, of what it means to have friends.  Later, Sunbeam helped me get an admission in the Lower Parel Municipal School where I completed my 3rd and 4th grades. I realised I could be an athlete when I received my first prize money of Rs. 21 ($0.50) in the annual sports day held in the school.
I was 9 years old when I started attending the Magic Bus weekly sessions, on Wednesdays. The sessions at Magic Bus made me relive the magic of the three-day excursion – we were all playing, learning, sharing and caring. Over the years, we learnt complex things like communication skills and teamwork, and also simple things like hand-washing, which keeps germs away.  Because of my skills I was given specialised training. I was just 10 then. I used to travel alone from lower Parel to the park in buses. This training helped me enhance my skills in sports later. By then I was also becoming an avid footballer.

When I was in 9th grade, my parents refused to let me pursue my studies any further. They felt it was my age to be married. My elder sisters had been married at the age of 12, 13 and 17 respectively. After marriage all three of them settled in different villages. I did not want to end up like them, bound to the home in a village, so I decided to fight for what I believed in. My father complained of the burden that my education had caused him; he said because of the expenditure on my education, he did not have enough money to feed my younger sisters. After a whole two months of resistance, my parents let me continue my education.
I finished my 10th grade and my family began to pressurize me for marriage again. My mentors from Magic Bus spoke to my parents and offered me the job with Magic Bus. Magic Bus gave me a fellowship and paid me a stipend of Rs. 2500 ($50.00) per month. I was 15 and I was thrilled beyond belief. I used my income to pay for my college tuition and support my family. I worked from 9 am to 5 pm and enrolled myself in a junior night college where I completed my 12th grade.  I had done all my schooling in a Hindi medium school so when I joined college, it was a big challenge for me to cope with the English-language classes. Most of my friends would attend coaching classes but I did not have any time as I was working during the day. 

I received my board results while I was at a refresher training camp with Magic Bus. I had managed to score a 59% in my Boards and I was satisfied. My parents were proud of me. By the time I came back from the camp, the admissions in all the colleges were closed. I decided to test my luck and visited Siddharth College where I got admission on the basis of sports quota for a Bachelors degree in Commerce. During the same time, I got selected as a National level Rugby player.
Also, I started playing football for various clubs like Magic Bus Football Club and Body Line Club. I stood first in an essay writing competition held by Laadli, an organisation that worked for the welfare of women. While I was in my second year of under graduation, I was awarded with the “Active Woman in Sports” award with prize money of Rs. 15,000 ($300.00) from my college. Magic Bus promoted me to the Training and Accreditation team. In my 3 years of college, not once has the championship cup gone to any other college in inter-collegiate sports tournaments.
It was during this time that I made my first trip abroad to London with Matthew Sir, the founder of Magic Bus for a fundraising program. It was a memorable experience, telling everyone how I had missed the life of a poverty-stricken woman by a whisper, and how their support can make sure girls like me don’t grow up to be uneducated mothers. I also got the opportunity to attend the Julie Foudy Leadership program for football training during the same time.
Right now, I've just gotten the news that I passed my results and am officially a college graduate.  I am considering doing a sports management degree . My parents are still coaxing me to get married while I work relentlessly to fulfill my goals. For me, accepting responsibility for my life, knowing it is only me who can get me where I want to be has helped overcome my challenges."
Parvati on the training field
Parvati on the training field
With with Indian celebrity Karan Johar
With with Indian celebrity Karan Johar


Mar 6, 2013

Project Funding Transition!

Magic Bus Delhi Program
Magic Bus Delhi Program

Hello Friends,

Thanks for all your support over the past 10 months.  Things are moving along at Magic Bus and we're proud to report we're working on a number of really game changing projects.  We just finished up a week in Portland at Nike as part of a consortium of thought leaders in the space of physical activity.  The report can be found at, and if you browse the case study section, you'll see a spotlight on Magic Bus!

Closer to the programs, we're proud to say that 44% of the 230,000 children in the program are girls today and 98% of girls of adolescent age are attending secondary school regularly, more than double the national average of 46%.  We now have position papers out on our theory of change and how it leads to measurable impacts in the areas of health, gender equality, education, and livelhoods.  The goal now is clear - help as many children own the ideas that will help them escape poverty.

To this end, we're happy to announce that this project on GlobalGiving is now transitioning to from the girls' exchange program to our core program that impacts more than 100,000 girls on a daily basis.

The focus of this project is to ensure that 4000 girls in India between the ages of 13-16 make it TO and THROUGH secondary school, which will lead to an education, and more importantly, a life free of early marraige and pregnancy.  

It will take an average of only $25/year to enroll and ensure a girl in Magic Bus stays in school - how sure are we???  98% sure!!!

Please do all you can to help us and these girls reach their goals!  Donate, spread the word, link us to your social media, reach out to get more info on how you can talk to your school, college, or workplace to see how they'd like to get involved through a number of ways!

Let's get this done together!  Wishing you all a very prosperous 2013!

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Reviews of MAGIC BUS USA

Great Nonprofits
Read and write reviews about MAGIC BUS USA on