- True Stories
Lockdown Heroes: Poverty-Alleviation NGO Magic Bus Offers A Helping Hand
From cooked meals to relief kits, on-ground youth leaders of Magic Bus are going door-to-door to offer aid in any form to the needy and vulnerable
At a time when the country could use all the help it can get, poverty-alleviation NGO Magic Bus is one of the many groups stepping up to the task. Founded in Mumbai in 1999, the organization employs youth leaders who conduct sports-based activity sessions and community counselling to help children complete their education, find jobs and refrain from underage employment or marriage—social practices that can derail their progress out of the cycle of poverty. Since the lockdown took effect, Magic Bus has made use of its massive country-wide network of foot soldiers across 22 Indian states, to offer aid and relief to the disadvantaged families they work with every day.
“The communities we work with are facing uncertain times, their struggles exacerbated with the loss of wages and food shortage and the lack of information and awareness regarding infection prevention practices. We are using our reach and strength to help all those most in need across communities,” says chief of programme operations Dhanashri Brahme, who is spearheading the relief efforts. “Social behaviour change communication is where our core strength is and we will continue to focus on that.”
The manner of relief Magic Bus is offering is multi-pronged. Thirty-three-year-old youth leader Ashwitha G., for example, cooks and distributes food for 600 to 1000 people every day since 10 April along with a team of seven community leaders and gram panchayat members in Rambainagar, Mysuru. “We start cooking at 7 a.m. and then go door to door distributing the meals to needy people in the area,” says Ashwitha. “Working closely with these families and community stakeholders for the last eight years means we share a good rapport and trust with the people here.”
On the other end of the country, Delhi-based 25-year-old Monica, has started a team dedicated to acquiring e-coupons for impoverished families in east Delhi’s Trilokpuri area who are stuck without livelihoods and unable to acquire food and supplies. “We found out that a lot of people could not get government rations because they did not have a permanent address or lacked the knowledge and means to apply for ration cards. So started a coordinated effort with a few other youth leaders to visit the families at their homes and get the necessary information to apply for the cards online through our phones,” says Monica. “We take every precaution, including wearing protective gear and clothing, to ensure both we and the people we want to help stay safe from infection,” she adds.
However, food is only one area of nationwide efforts. Youth leaders are also spreading information about how the Covid-19 virus spreads, how to protect oneself through good hygiene and social distancing, as well as supplying relief kits that include soap and masks apart from food supplies. “We have so far distributed basic essentials to more than 52,000 people in the last 10 days, but we need all the support we can get to enhance our outreach,” says Brahme.
If you’d like to contribute to the dedicated efforts by the Magic Bus team, visit https://bit.ly/MBCOVIDRelief or call on 9594554433 between 10:00 am to 6pm on Monday to Saturday.