NEW YORK – Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan graced the first ever Magic Bus Gala in New Jersey on February 15, which attracted about 400 members of the Indian American community and raised almost $300,000.
According to a press release, Magic Bus is an award winning, non-profit organization that reaches nearly 400,000 marginalized children across 22 states in India and provides essential life-skills training, learning enhancement programs, counseling, workforce readiness training and job placement to help children and youth take control of their future and move out of poverty.
The main purpose of Magic Bus though, is to leverage the love of play in children to instill key messages about education, gender equality, mentorship and leadership by partnering 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, according to a press release.
“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. Magic Bus programs show extremely positive impact in areas relating to school participation, adolescent girls in secondary school, youth in college, and youth in formal sector employment,” the release stated.
Utkarsha Mahadeshwar, a 17-year old girl from Dharavi, Mumbai who has been in Magic Bus programs since she was 8, was also present at the gala and spoke about growing up in Asia’s largest slum as well as her journey with Magic Bus.
Along with a welcome address by Amit Bhandari, the head of BioUrja Trading, a global energy and agricultural commodities and trading supply group and the chairman of Magic Bus USA, a special performance was given by Chintan Bakiwala, the winner of the TV show K for Kishore.
Other speakers included the founder of Magic Bus Matthew Spacie, the director of International Programs Geetanjali Singh and the president of Magic Bus Harvard Chapter Neeraj Salhotra.
The New Jersey gala was hosted by Padma Shri Sudhir Parikh, founder and chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media, Padma Shri H.R. Shah of TV Asia, Srujal Parikh, president of FIA NJ-NY-CT, Albert Jasani, Jignesh Pandya, Mani Kamboj, Parag Amin, Vikram Uppal and Jayesh Patel.
According to Bhandari, the fourth Annual Magic Bus Gala was held in Houston on Feb. 10, where they raised $1 million.
Magic Bus is supported by several corporations including Mondelez International, Tata Trusts, Google, Vodafone, BMW, Nestle, HDFC, Bloomberg, Boeing, TOMS, Oracle and others.