At the beginning it was just a trip to the countryside, with children from the slums of Mumbai. Now, it is one of the largest mentoring organisations in India: the Magic Bus Foundation. With the support of the BMW Group, Magic Bus has already enabled more than two million children and youths to get an education – and thus prepared them for an independent life without poverty.
It all began 20 years ago in Mumbai. Mathew Spacie, founder and CEO of Magic Bus, took the children from the slums of Mumbai in a bus to the countryside for a weekend. The former Rugby professional’s idea was that he wanted to take the children on a mystery tour full of positive experiences. That was the start of Magic Bus. Today, Magic Bus India Foundation is the largest mentoring organisation in India and reaches out to 375,000 children in almost 2,000 Indian communities with more than 1,000 employees.
The BMW Group in India has been supporting Magic Bus for over ten years and as a local partner the company has contributed significantly towards successfully expanding the “Childhood to Livelihood” programme – giving young people like Rahul a chance to escape poverty. The 19-year old, who lived in a rented one-room apartment in Vishwanath Puri, Bhalaswa Slum in New Delhi with his parents and seven brothers and sisters, was known as a shy, irritable boy, when he joined Magic Bus’s experience-based support curriculum. As a youth leader and trainer, he soon found a fulfilling task in the organisation. However, it was still a long way until he was ready to take responsibility for his life. Not only did Magic Bus support him by providing educational and sports programmes, they also helped him understand his own emotions better. Today, Rahul is a young adult who is appreciated in his community as an intelligent and empathetic person. The education they received at Magic Bus also changed Kavita’s and Reshmi’s lives. Instead of being married off by their families, the two girls decided to lead their own, financially independent lives.
To date, close to two million children have benefited from the Magic Bus programmes. The BMW India Foundation currently supports Magic Bus with running five youth centres in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Secunderabad. There, 2,000 young people receive an education each year preparing them for a life without poverty. Four out of five of the 18 to 24-year olds get a job at one of Magic Bus’s cooperation partners, including the BMW Group.
When Magic Bus founder Mathew Spacie took the first children on a nature trip to give them some hope for a better life, he had a vision. He wanted to change Indian society visibly and sustainably. And he has succeeded. By staying in close contact with parents and communities, Spacie not only makes existing infrastructures accessible for disadvantaged people, but also promotes gender equality, for example through mixed handball tournaments. In this way he is changing behavioural patterns – of the children, their parents and in the communities.
Today, The Magic Bus Foundation has offices in the USA, the UK, Germany, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. For further information on this topic, please see: www.magicbus.org.