Farzana Begum, a 20-year-old from the old city in Hyderabad, lives amongst constant tension between the Muslim and Dalit ("untouchables") population in her community. Tension that often breaks out into riots, leading to a city shut down. She grew up with her father and step-mum, but when her father died she lost his protection. Forced to do all the household chores, Farzana survived off leftovers from her step-brothers and sisters.
Farzana felt her first true freedom when she became a Community Sports Coach (youth volunteer) with Magic Bus. Dressed in full Burkha, Farzana takes off her head scarf and explains that working with Magic Bus has given her the confidence to say no to an arrange marriage offer with a 70-year-old man.
“After joining Magic Bus, I gained confidence and started facilitating sessions in the community and refused to marry or succumb to pressure. When I was younger, I was shy and didn't have any friends; now I have many”, she says, smiling.
Farzana's brave attitude filters down to the girls and boys she teaches every week, as she shows them that they are equal and should hope for a better future, regardless of gender, religion or background. Farzana is now undertaking a postgraduate course and dreams of becoming a lecturer. Her natural leadership abilities have resulted in her promotion to a Youth Mentor (Magic Bus trainer). Her aim for Magic Bus? To involve all the muslim girls and women from her community in the programme.