Over time this blog will become a record of those who have helped shape who I am and where I have come from. I have many, many people that I can include. The first post is about a young woman who played a major part in my decision to return to live and work in India in 2011. Parvati introduced me to the potential of young, marginalised, people. I was, to a degree, always aware of this potential, but to have it demonstrated so vibrantly through Parvati’s personality and drive was, quite literally, life changing.
I met Parvati in 2007. Matthew Spacie kindly asked me to visit India, Magic Bus and the Magic Bus Centre, as a consultant to assess the viability for the Centre as an outdoor experiential learning facility for businesses. The aim was to look at the viability of corporate interest in using the outdoors and adventure activities, and expand the facilities to have a high standard business learning facility on the campus.
The payment I received was ‘recycled’ in order for me to return to India a few months later to manage a photography project as part of the MA in ‘Documentary Photography and Photojournalism’ I was involved in that year. This was a ‘participative’ project. I didn’t want to be a voyeur with a camera, but to engage with young people from Magic Bus and help them develop a visual literacy so they could tell their story through images, rather than be the subject alone. I worked with four Magic Bus Youth Mentors, Parvati, Gaurang, Imran and Ahsan – all who have made an impact on me.
This resulted in the collaborative book ‘Through Our Eyes – Our Heart – Our Minds’.
This experience gave me a wonderful insight into the potential of people, and their drive to succeed.
Returning to India in 2011, I met Parvati again. The transformation from a quiet, unassuming young woman of 17, in 2007, to the force of nature I met in 2011 was incredible! It is difficult to describe in words the increased confidence and ability.
The images below are a selection from 2007 and between 2011 and just a few days ago. What I notice in the earlier images is a quiet ‘fire in the eyes’. A determined streak is apparent. The recent images display the same, but with a smile and confidence.
To go from the interested, but quiet, person of 8 years ago, to this exuberant personality of now is, to me, the epitome of realising your own potential and taking and absorbing any opportunities that come your way. It is one thing to be given opportunities. It is another altogether to take them, build upon them and to use that knowledge in the application of supporting and developing others to seek opportunities, both for self improvement and the improvement and of others, and the communities they come from.
Below the images is a write up, by Parvati herself, on her back ground and achievements. To meet and know her is one of life’s privileges.
She continues to look to learn, improve and grab any opportunities going. As an role model, advocate and mentor to the potential of youth, there are few like her.
‘Born fourth of 7 children to construction labourer’s in Lower Parel Mumbai, Parviti has grown up with Magic Bus since the age of 9. Her eldest sister was married at the age of 12, and Parvati didn’t want the same life. Having experienced a 3 day Magic Bus excursion through a Mumbai NGO, ‘Sunbeam’, she recognized a life using sport, games and activity to learn and help others to learn was possible.
Despite continued pressure from her parents to gat married, Parvati managed to achieve 10th Grade Standard, and her Magic Bus mentors spoke with her parents and arranged for her to work with Magi Bus, earning a small stipend, whilst completing 11th & 12th Grades. From their went on to college where she achieved a Bachelors Degree in Commerce. During her college years Parvati was selected as a National Level Rugby player, as well as representing several football teams in Mumbai.
Currently Parvati works with Magic Bus India as National trainer. She also co-founded ‘Leher Foundation’, an NGO on girl’s empowerment. Her studies continue, pursuing Post Graduation in Child Rights and Child Policy from Nirmala Niketan Mumbai. Parviti is rightly proud to be the 1st generation from her village and her family who is attending higher education.
In 2014 she selected for United Nation Sports for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) Youth Leadership camp that was held in Gwanju South Korea, and also selected for Master camp in 2015 in Florida USA. Parvati regularly travels around the world representing Magic Bus, and inspiring others speaking about her story, and the and raising funds for other magic Bus underprivileged children.’