The South Asian Times

22 March 2018 23:21 PM

Magic Bus marks NJ presence with Bachchan at gala

Fords, NJ: Almost 400 supporters, including prominent business leaders, professionals and members of the Indian-American community came together for the first-ever Magic Bus Gala here on February 15 to raise funds for life-skills, literacy and livelihoods programs for underprivileged children in urban and rural communities in India.

Film star Abhishek Bachchan was there to explain how he became involved with Magic Bus as a global ambassador several years ago at the encouragement of his wife, Aishwarya Rai.

The evening raised almost $300,000 for Magic Bus, a 19-year old, award winning, non-profit that reaches nearly 400,000 marginalized children across 22 states in India and provides essential life-skills training, learning enhancement programs, counselling, workforce readiness training and job placement to help children and youth take control of their future and move out of poverty.

Magic Bus’s unique Sports for Development and volunteer-based mentoring model has enabled it to reach a child with just $25 per year making it one of the world’s most cost-effective and impactful poverty alleviation programs. Magic Bus leverages the love of play in children to instill key messages about education, gender equality, mentorship and leadership. It partners with parents, local community, schools and training partners to build an ecosystem of collaboration and a positive environment to encourage children to attain their education and job-related goals. In India where 30 percent of all girls get married under the legal age, one of the key impacts that Magic Bus delivers is that 99 percent of all girls in Magic Bus programs are able to avoid child marriage and its negative consequences.

The evening’s most charming guest was Utkarsha Mahadeshwar, a 17-year old girl from Dharavi slum, Mumbai who has been in Magic Bus programs since she was 8. In a community where most girls drop out of school and get married at an early age, Utkarsha has become a role model – not just completing school but also enrolling in one of the most prestigious colleges in Mumbai “D.G. Ruparel College of Arts, Science & Commerce”, that counts Aishwarya Rai Bachchan among its noted alumni.

The evening’s program started with a welcome address by. Amit Bhandari, the head of BioUrja Trading, a global energy and agricultural commodities and trading supply group. He is the Chairman of Magic Bus USA and under him, the 4th Annual Magic Bus Gala in Houston on February 10  raised $1 Million.

Other speakers included Matthew Spacie, Magic Bus Founder and Geetanjali Singh, Director of International Programs.

Magic Bus is supported by corporations including Mondelez International, Tata Trusts, Google, Vodafone, BMW, Nestle, HDFC, Bloomberg, and Boeing.

Host committee for the New Jersey Gala included H.R. Shah, Albert Jasani, Jignesh Pandya,  Mani Kamboj,  Parag Amin, Vikram Uppal, Srujal Parikh, Dr. Sudhir Parikh, and Jayesh Patel.

Update: 01 March, 2018