In India a Magic Bus is creating radical transformations. It is teaching the country’s poorest children to believe they are capable and smart. It is giving them a future.
The not-for-profit organization started in 1999 as an idea in Matthew Spacie’s head. He was Chief Operating Officer of Cox & Kings, a high-end travel company in India. In his free time he taught slum children from the Akanksha Foundation to play rugby and took them on mountain and beach adventures. He worked with at-risk children on Mumbai’s Fashion Street.
In 2001 his dream of doing more for the children became a registered organization. Spacie left the travel company to run Magic Bus and set out to change the lives of marginalized children around India.
His dream is making a difference. Children are eager to participate in the games. Boys and girls learn to play together. As enthusiastic children go off to school, parents see both sons and daughters in a new light.
India’s poverty and illiteracy statistics are staggering. Magic Bus is changing them with its Activity Based Curriculum and experiential learning. Children receive 40 sessions a year, “each with a lesson…about education, gender, health, and key issues affecting them.”
The results are impressive. Over 70 percent of Magic Bus children stay in school. Their health improves. Girls make up 40 percent of Magic Bus participants, and half of the mentors are young women. Opportunities for work and further education open for 85 percent of the children.
Every week 200,000 children from marginalized communities participate in Magic Bus’s sport for development programs. By 2015 the goal is to involve one million children.
Magic Bus has affiliates in the UK, US and Germany. It has a Centre for Learning and Development in the Sahyadri Hills in Western India. It has a long list of supporters as well as many volunteers.
The impacts ripple outward, and it all started with one man’s dream.