A young boy from a remote Mumbai slum transforms himself from being a completely rebellious tyrant to a responsible student. How did this transformation occur? 

Most of us are people from well-educated, financially stable, cultured families. We are in a position to attain a good education and then get a decent job. However, is everyone as lucky as you and me? No, not really. Think about the boys and girls in slums, who get little or no education. Will they have an equal shot at getting the same job as you and me? No. 

Two years ago, Nitin Baswasker had forged himself a reputation of being involved in substance abuse and was a regular and a feared face in many street fights. He dropped out of school and most people assumed that he would never have a very bright future. However, today, we see a change in this young 17-year-old, who now, attends night school, works as a door-to-door salesperson and is a role model to children in his neighbourhood. 

“I never imagined myself to be a role-model. How could I? At Annabhau Sathinagar, I was a part of a group that indulged in street-fights and substance abuse. All of us were drop-outs and had no inclination towards studies or a career,” says 17-year-old Nitin Bawasker.


Welcome To Annabhau Sathinagar 

Nitin lives in Annabhau Sathinagar, a slum cluster in Mankhurd of M-East ward with his mother, younger brother and maternal grandmother in a one-room house. His mother is a domestic help in Vashi, who is earning Rs. 5000 a month.

“My mother leaves home in the morning only to return late in the evening. She works very hard to feed us and keep us in school. I wish I can relieve her burden after I graduate and start earning well,” Nitin says.

Nitin tells us that, he had a younger brother but they never got along well. Nitin did not have a very happy childhood, and in fact, most of his memories that he could recollect, signify an adverse childhood, devoid of even the most basic facilities.

“My father works as a garbage collector in Belapur. He earns Rs. 9,000 a month and spends it entirely on alcohol. He would beat us up under the influence of alcohol. Two months ago, unable to put up with the abuse, my mother asked him to leave. Since then, my father has been living with his friends at Belapur. We don’t get to see him at all except in the evenings, when he sometimes drops by to have food. We don’t miss him,” Nitin says, fighting to keep his voice steady and impassive.

Nitin dropped out of school two years back, however, he was lucky enough to meet Dilraj bhaiya, who helped him change and become a better person. Dilraj Bhaiya (a Magic Bus Mentor), invited them to attend an education and awareness session two years ago. Dilraj, who is a Youth Mentor at Annabhau Sathinagar, explains how he convinced Nitin to come for the sessions regularly.

“It took me eight months to convince him. I found out more about his situation. I spoke to him about his responsibilities. I used to counsel him to think of his younger brother and mother, and not just loiter around with friends. There was no one in his family to speak to him about these things, to remind him of his responsibilities. Gradually, he started realising how he was wasting his time when his mother and his family needed him,” says Dilraj.

“We started realising our responsibilities. We understood that in order to be remembered, we had to inspire people instead of threatening them. I started earning Rs. 6,000 a month. It was a huge relief for my mother. I negotiated with my employer to adjust my work hours so that I am not late for school,” Nitin explains.?

Nitin has a very busy schedule since he is working during the day and going to school at night. However, this never deters him from conducting a Magic Bus session. He gets up early, gathers children takes them to the field and teaches them various lessons through activity-based sessions.

“I feel happy when they call me ‘bhaiya’ and look up to me for advice and guidance. I try to help them with all I have learnt. I want them to understand the importance of education and not give it up, ever. It is a rewarding role and I look forward to meeting the children every day,” Nitin shares.

If one person can inspire, another person to change, then I imagine that one day, we will have the world full of people willing to help for the cause of humanity. In such a world, there would be selfless people joining hands for the betterment of our race.