The pandemic hit the villagers hard. Almost overnight, many of them lost jobs. After schools closed, while Sulekha and her elder sister stayed at home, managing the household chores and taking care of the younger brother, their parents went out to find work. “On a month where both her parents had work, their income would be around Rs. 7000. During the lockdown, it was reduced to a bare minimum,” says Pooja.
Sulekha and 170 other children who are a part of the Magic Bus programme couldn’t fathom the extent of the crisis and were frightened by what would happen next? Would they starve? Would they ever get to go back to school? Would they get infected by the virus? Magic Bus began its telephonic sessions to listen in to the fears of these children, to respond to them and also to keep them engaged in the process of learning.
Sulekha didn’t have a phone. Her father did.
“Our sessions were between 12 and 1 in the afternoon. I used call on Sulekha’s father’s phone. He would be at work and would have to immediately rush home to give Sulekha the phone so that she could be a part of the session,” explains Pooja. Seeing Sulekha’s enthusiasm about these calls and after talking to Pooja, Sulekha’s father decided to buy her a new phone. “He understood that it was important for his daughter to learn despite their crushing poverty,” remarks Pooja.
What does the new normal look like for Sulekha and children like her? Families like Sulekha’s want to send their children to school but simply can’t afford them. Magic Bus’ COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Programme will work with 2,00,000 families across 22 States in India to ensure 3,00,000 children can complete their education, delay their age at marriage, and pursue a career of their own.
To know more about Magic Bus Foundation : - www.magicbus.org to know more about our work.