Create 4000 high school graduates in India

Kowsalya delivers a Magic Bus session
Kowsalya delivers a Magic Bus session

The small community of VRP Chatram, a suburb of Chennai, has historically been one of the most conservative communities in South India.  Girls typically are not allowed to step out of the house to participate in outdoor activities for anything outside of basic daily tasks.  The village is primarily comprised of factory and agriculture laborers who commute to the next town for daily work.  These workers have very little educational background and work very hard to make ends meet.  The views on children, marriage, and gender roles are very traditional.  School is for boys, girls must be married off as soon as possible, and boys and girls do not play together after a certain age.

19-year old Kowsalya spent her life thinking this was unfair, so she repeatedly went to the village elders to understand why things were the way they were and if something could be done to "level the playing field" for girls in the community.  It was very clear that there were a different set of rules for boys and a different set of rules for girls.  But it didn't matter who she spoke to - no one agreed with her.

One year ago, this began to change.  Kowaslya, joined Magic Bus as a Community Youth Leader (CYL).  Her leadership caught the eye of a female Magic Bus Youth Mentor, Kiruba.

"When I first met Kowsalya, she immediately came across as an independant, confident girl who wanted to empower herself and other women in her community.  It was painfully obvious, though, that as hard as she tried, she couldn't muster up support from her community to agree with her views."  As a local woman herself, Kiruba realized that Magic Bus could provide her the one thing her community couldn't - a network and platform of like-minded people that could support Kowsalya in fulfilling her potential as a community leader.

Before Magic Bus, Kowsalya felt a bit like a lone ranger, always discussing ideas on gender equality, health practices, and education, but her words were rarely heard.  Children would listen to her, but these instances were few and far between.  Magic Bus gave her the weekly platform for her to become a visible role model for girls in the community, and also gave her a peer group that could support her and help her grow.

Today, Kowsalya has graduated high school and is currently working on her Bachelor's in Computer Science and well on her way of being a change agent in her community, helping girls like her step outside of the house and into the light.

Children participating in a Magic Bus session
Children participating in a Magic Bus session
Shivam and Arti, the role models
Shivam and Arti, the role models

Over a year ago, Shivam was 18 years old and laying in a hospital bed.  His father had just passed away and Shivam before Shivam could even adjust to becoming the head of the household, he had a horrible accident that left him without any legs.  With every reason to feel gril about the future, Shivam put his sorrows behind him and worked at completing his education and leading in his community, as a Magic Bus Community Youth Leader. 

Fast forward one year, and we're sitting with Shivam's sister Arti, who is a year younger than him.  "I joined Magic Bus two weeks ago," says Arti.  "My brother, Shivam, encouraged me to join Magic Bus, after he's been with Magic Bus for over a year now."  She saw him as a role model and wanted to follow in his footsteps.  He supported her in her goals, after seeing how Magic Bus is a great platform for young men and women can learn to work together in a productive and supportive environment.

Today, Arti and Shivam are taking their high school board exams.  They both attend a government school in Nangloi, in north Delhi, a few blocks away from their one-bedroom home.

For Shivam, getting around outside fo the home is a physical challenge, but for his sister Arti, getting around was difficult for a very different reason.  "My mobility was limited because of my gender," she says. "As a result, my decision to join Magic Bus was challenged by my neighbors, friends, and community."  She says that Shivam's constant support gave her confidence to continue to stand up for her personal freedom.

Shivam is a role model for Arti and for other youth in the community. “The best thing about him is his positivity and how he approaches life,” says Arti. They are a family of four - three children and a mother - surviving on a monthly income of $50/month.  

“The Magic Bus journey has helped me introspect. From being a rebellious child in my youth, Magic Bus has helped transform me into a leader who takes pride in passing on safe and prudent ideas and practices to children and other young adults. Today my community identifies me as a hero, as someone who overcame great odds," he narrates.

Shivam and Arti both believe that she has the same leadership qualities within herself.  

“I want Arti to galvanize her friends and other women from the community to step out and be agents of change.”

With your support, Arti will be able to make that wish a reality.

re are many more Artis and Shivams out there waiting to realise their potential as a leader. They need your support.

President of India presents award to Magic Bus CEO
President of India presents award to Magic Bus CEO

Dear Friend,

As 2014 comes to a close, I am very excited about what is in store for Magic Bus. Our programs in India continue to grow and we are now implementing the Magic Bus model outside of India - from Singapore to London and soon in other South Asian countries. 

I would like to personally thank you for supporting Magic Bus and the 250,000 children that benefit from our programs every week. This year, Magic Bus celebrated its 15th birthday and was delighted to receive overwhelming public recognition and validation:

2014 was a watershed year for Magic Bus USA where we raised nearly $2m in funding and in-kind donations from thousands of US-based organizations and individuals, including:

I am very excited to report that a Board Member has committed to funding our growth in 2015 and will cover 100% of our operational expenses for the year. These additional resources will enable Magic Bus to reach out to you - the donor - more frequently and regularly than before. Most importantly, it means that 100% of every dollar donated in 2015 will go directly to programs.

All of us at Magic Bus look forward to strengthening our donor relationships as we continue to work together to break the poverty cycle. Here's to a wonderful holiday season and a very happy and prosperous New Year to you and yours.

ESPN's Kevin Negandhi + Magic Bus youth in Houston
Youth Leadership Camp held in South Korea
Youth Leadership Camp held in South Korea

This is a blog by 21-year old Radhika Jeenwal's about her experience at a UNOSDP (UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace) Youth Leadership Camp in South Korea. Radhika is a Magic Bus Training and Monitoring Officer in charge of a team of 64 Community Youth Leaders (CYL) who work in the field every day delivering the Magic Bus sport for development programme to 1800 children across South Delhi.

Radhika works with hundreds of girls that are first generation high school students in their entire families.

Radhika shares her experience of the camp here:


"The United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) organised its 12th Youth Leadership Camp in Gwangju, a beautiful city in the Republic of Korea from August 19th – 30th 2014. I feel extremely happy and fortunate to have been chosen to represent Magic Bus at this camp.

Over 33 young boys and girls from all over the world participated in the Camp. In these 12 days, I learnt a great deal. I left the camp with a deeper understanding of how sport provides a forum to develop discipline, confidence, leadership, and other core principles such as tolerance, cooperation and respect. I learnt that sport is a powerful vehicle through which the United Nations can leverage as a tool to achieve its goals, in particular the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Sport should therefore be seen as an engine for development, not as a mere by-product.

The Youth Leadership Camp emphasised the potential that youth have to invoke change in their community. By helping youth develop their leadership skills in Sport for Development this programme not only contributes to the personal development of young people, it also contributes to community development. By providing opportunities for young people like me to develop and exercise our leadership skills, we are better able to build the capacity of our communities and respond to their pressing needs.

I have tried to capture the most significant learnings from my experience at the Youth Leadership Camp, below.


Day 1: Introduction, leadership and peace and Right To Play

It is important to know what kind of communication is needed for different situations. There are five basic types of communication:

  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Group or team
  • Public
  • Mass media

Types of leadership:

  •         Inclusive leadership
  •         Authoritarian leadership


Day 2: Sports and peace-building with the International Table Tennis Federation

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is the governing body for all national Table Tennis associations. The role of the ITTF includes overseeing rules and regulations, and seeking technological improvement for the sport of Table Tennis. Table Tennis is one of the most popular sports worldwide. For many amateurs it is an economical and easy way of having fun and for professional players, it’s a passion.


Day 3: Adapting physical activities for those with a disability with Play&Train - partners ofInternational Paralympics Committee

The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) has an exceptional track record of using sport to showcase what can be achieved by people with disability, on a global level.

Sport is a powerful tool for changing perceptions. It is an opportunity to recover/rediscover life.


Day 4: Leadership through Football with the English Football Association

The Association’s international leadership and volunteering programme, Changing Lives, was established in 2005 to provide an opportunity for young football leaders to experience volunteering abroad whilst leaving a legacy by sharing their own leadership skills with other young leaders from the host country.

The activities included:

  •         Introduction about Football
  •         Warm-up games
  •         Organising and managing a Football activity session
  •         Organising and running event with NW SWAGS Swimming Club, South Africa


Day 5: Swimming session and water safety games with NW SWAGS Swimming Club, South Africa

The first water experience of children is crucial, and therefore games play a big part during teaching. Knowledge of water safety games is very important for 'Learn to Swim' instructors.


Day 6: Peace and friendship in every corner of the global village through Taekwondo with World Taekwondo Federation

The World Taekwondo Federation works to provide effective international governance of Taekwondo as an Olympic sport. The federation helps promote, expand, and improve the practice of Taekwondo worldwide in light of its educational, cultural, and sports values and to promote fair play, youth development and education as well as to encourage peace and cooperation through participation in sports.


Day 7: Child protection/ Safeguarding youth and Sport for Development with Right to Play

This self-audit tool is an ideal way to measure how far (or near!) our organisation is from meeting international standards on safeguarding and protecting children in sport, and where we need to improve.


Day 8: Gender equality in sport with Korean Air

Gender is a social construct that outlines the roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a particular society believes are appropriate for men and women. Gender differences between men and women do not necessarily imply inequality. However, globally, women are particularly disadvantaged by gender constructs which prevent them from fully realising their rights, accessing resources, and harnessing opportunities.

Day 9: EPICS Forum

This forum is organised every year in Gwangju and is based on the concept of ‘Sports meets Art & Culture’ aimed at University students and other youth. At the end of this forum, Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace to the UN Secretary-General, asked all of us if we were aware of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It was a proud moment for me since I was the only one amongst the 33 participants who knew all the 8 MDGs and earned Mr. Lemke’s open appreciation along with a UNOSDP badge. This moment was really special. :o)

Day 10: Excursion day

We went around the city to explore and understand the culture, tradition, cuisine and rituals of South Korea.

Day 11: Action Plan/ prevention of HIV-infection and HIV-related discrimination among young people with AIDS

We were given some basic knowledge about HIV and AIDS, after which we took part in a quiz on the same topic. I scored well and was also rewarded with special appreciation.

Day 12: Promising practices

The concluding session saw representatives from each participating organisation demonstrate the work that their organisation does on Sport for Development. Like everyone else, I took this opportunity to share a glimpse of the innovative activity-based sessions that the Youth Leaders at Magic Bus hold every week with children from marginalised communities on the Magic Bus programme.

This was a 12-day journey in my life which I feel has really changed me, not only as a youth leader but also as a person. I would like to express my gratitude to Magic Bus once again for giving me the chance to take part in this camp. Last but not the least, I would  like to thank our Magic Bus CEO, Pratik Kumar, who left me with very encouraging words that filled me with a sense of confidence and ownership just before I departed from Delhi to South Korea.

Taekwondo session led by World Taekwondo Fdn
Taekwondo session led by World Taekwondo Fdn
Gulafsha speaks to elders in the community
Gulafsha speaks to elders in the community

Brief description of community/socio-economic background:

Bhalswa is a large resettlement colony on the outskirts of northwest Delhi, located on the fringes of Delhi’s largest garbage dumping ground. Not surprisingly, only the poorest families in this megacity call this area home. Most of the community’s population is well below the poverty line. Men here work as daily wage workers at construction sites. Women work alongside them or as domestic help in more affluent neighborhoods.

The area is like so many others like it in Delhi, suffering from a lack of electricity, clean drinking water, and sanitation facilities. Unemployment is high. There is only one government school in the area, located far from where the children live.. Children have to walk a very far distance just to attend this school.  

These are the living condition for Magic Bus volunteer and first-generation college student, Gulafsha. She lives here with her parents and five siblings. The entire family of eight lives in a one-room shack in this slum. Her father runs a small butcher shop and earns 8000 rupees/month, the equivalant of $133/month, which is just enough to make ends meet.


How did Gulafsha find Magic Bus? 


In 2011, through generous donors, Magic Bus was able to launch a program in Bhalswa. Magic Bus staff was tasked with surveying the community and working with local organizations to identify high-potential youth. Gulafsha was identified as a bright, cheerful, young girl who was willing to be the change in her community. She was excited and motivated to become a role model to younger children in her community.

With her parents' blessings, Gulafsha was ready to start working with Magic Bus, but there would be many obstacles on the way. Her family faced constant dissention and threats from community leaders for sending a girl to take part in a mixed-gender, outdoor program. “When we started, it was not socially acceptable to send a girl out into the playing field," said Gulafsha’s mother.  According to the community, girls were not supported to play, they were supposed to be "good girls" and stay indoors unless with their family. Gulafsha's family could not have done this along and that's where Magic Bus staff stepped in an assured her family that the organization and staff would always be there to not only back Gulafsha, but her parents and family as well.  Fully aware of how taking part in the program would positively affect Gulalfsha's life and future, they courageously supported her participation at Magic Bus.


How has Magic Bus impacted Gulafsha's life?


Gulafsha has joined the Magic Bus Connect program which helps prepare Magic Bus graduates with livelihoods and job-skills training. The Connect program builds skills in areas like functional English, computer literacy, and interviewing. In the program, she was paired with a career mentor who helped her decide what she wanted to do for a livelihood. Gulafsha graduated high school and continues to serve as a Community Youth Leader, serving as a Magic Bus role model for 50 children in her community.

Through this process, Gulafsha realized that she has a natural gift for teaching and decided that she wanted to pursue further education to reach her goal. With the help of Magic Bus staff, she met with her family and discussed the investment in her education.  With their support, she applied for and was accepted to the 3 year Bachelor's of Arts program at Delhi University. She has just finished her first year of her degree and is studying hard, overcoming the talleset of odds to make it this far!

Gulafsha serves as a role model to a young girl
Gulafsha serves as a role model to a young girl



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Organization Information


Location: Palo Alto, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Justin Reeves
Executive Director
Palo Alto, CA United States
$7,517 raised of $100,000 goal
114 donations
$92,483 to go
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