On a Saturday in 1999, a group of children in Mumbai climbed onto a bus. Their destination was the beaches and hills outside Mumbai. It would be a day away from the harshness of life in the slums, a day when they could be free and part of a team. For the children it was more than just a day out; it was an opportunity for change. It was a ride on the ‘Magic Bus’.
With them was Matthew Spacie, at the time the COO of Cox and Kings in Mumbai. Months before, he had been playing with a rugby ball outside his office when he noticed a group of boys living at the bus stop across the street. He called them over to hop the fence and play some rugby. Their games quickly became a routine and over the next few months Matthew began coaching them as a team.
The effect on the boys was remarkable. Being part of a team inspired them to aim higher. They went back to school, enrolled in vocational courses and became mentors for younger children in their community.
“A couple of things really struck me early on,” Matthew explains. “Firstly, there were a tremendous amount of infrastructure and services focused on education, but schools sat empty. Secondly, there was a great deficit of organisations focusing on sustainable livelihoods. I also found there wasn’t much being done to develop the social and emotional skills of marginalised children.”
Noticing a gap in the service that NGOs were providing, Matthew appointed the boys from his rugby training to gather other boys and girls from their communities for weekend activity camps.
Magic Bus was born. The phenomenal value it created in the lives of children inspired Matthew to give up his job and devote all his time to expanding its reach. The organisation quickly changed to include a variety of sports, including football, cricket and kabbadi.
Over the past 17 years Magic Bus has expanded, first to 3,000 children in Mumbai and then over 350,000 across India. The charity has grown substantially but its essence remains the same as it did on that first Saturday in 1999. Now, instead of an actual bus trip, children are taken on a wider journey of development that affects every part of their childhood and the lives of whole communities.
Magic Bus vision
Magic Bus will give millions of children living in poverty the opportunity to control the way they view the world, the freedom to choose the role they will play in it, and the power to define their own destiny.
Magic Bus mission
Magic Bus is committed to developing local community mentors who take children living in poverty on the journey from childhood to livelihood. Over a ten year period, the mentors work with children and parents through a weekly curriculum of sporting activities, which are used as metaphors to change behaviour in the areas of education, health, gender and livelihood. They always access existing community partnerships to ensure that young people move from poverty, and develop into young adults with greater control and choice.
All Magic Bus graduates are offered the opportunity to enrol in livelihood programmes creating, at scale, a movement of competent, confident young people ready to make asignificant difference to their lives.
Where is Magic Bus