The Social Entrepreneur Interview Series: Meet Matthew Spacie of Magic Bus

Friday, July 10, 2015

Alexandre: What is a great story you can share about one of your beneficiaries?

Suryakant joined the Magic Bus programme when he was just 10. He’s from Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, where people live in dire circumstances. His father is a cobbler, and his mother is a home-maker?–?five of them were living on just $48 per month in a cramped 7×10 square foot one room home. He was set to follow in his Father’s footsteps, working for daily wages struggling to survive. But he stayed with us for 10 years being mentored by a Magic Bus youth leader called Sheetal from his same community.

Suryakant knows how to balance all his responsibilities including study and work, and being a Magic Bus community youth leader. He can get through job interviews, and he speaks English fluently?–?skills he learned on our Livelihood program. Having these abilities helped him to gain the confidence to get the job he’s in now.

Today at 20, he’s studying for a degree at University and working as a Business Development Manager for an events company. He wants to become a businessman and take his parents on a world trip!

Every Saturday Suryakant also mentors children and youth in the Magic Bus program. He often tells me that if it wasn’t for his mentor Sheetal, he wouldn’t be where he is today. He wants to do the same for children in his community.

In many ways, Suryakant’s story epitomises how the program works and why it’s sustainable in the long run. The key point in his story, for instance, is the fact that it is he and his community; the youth leaders, children and parents, that take ownership of solving the problems they face. We provide young people with the right skills, and open up opportunities for them through various private and public sector partners. Ultimately, by the time our children develop into adults, they are ready to be in higher education, vocational training or full-time employment.

Alexandre: What was a life changing moment for you?

When I realised that we could use people from the same community as role models for our children. It happened when I was teaching rugby to the boys that used to hang out on the streets outside the Bombay Gymkhana. I noticed how, with such ease, they took on the role of being a coach and mentor to children and other young people from their own community. That’s how the role model approach was born for Magic Bus and I believe that is why the program continues to be so powerful.

Source: The Huffington Post (link opens in a new window)

poverty alleviation