Georgina Chapman has had a long-standing personal and professional connection with India. Since she was a child, she’s been fascinated by the country's culture and its deep-rooted traditions. When we caught up with her on the phone after her most recent trip to the region, the Marchesa co-founder and designer said, “There’s no more inspiring place to be,” explaining that it’s ripe with vibrant patterned textiles, potent spices, and energy.
But it’s also an area suffering from extreme poverty—that’s something Chapman wants to change as an ambassador for the Magic Bus organization.
Chapman joined forces with Magic Bus founder Matthew Spacie three years ago, dedicating her free time to helping raise funds. She even asked guests at her wedding to donate in lieu of gifts. It’s become her passion project, and earlier this April she had the chance to travel to Mankhurd, Mumbai, and meet some of the children and families benefiting from the program, which is focused on mentorship and education.
“[Poverty] seems like an impossible situation to resolve,” Chapman said. “But what’s incredible about Magic Bus is that it’s not overnight change, because overnight change doesn’t last. This is long-term and truly impactful.”
Magic Bus’s goal is to train youth mentors to inspire others in their own communities empowering children who may not otherwise have the opportunity, to understand the importance of higher education, health, safety, and other basic needs. They connect with kids by playing sports like rugby and teach them about overcoming challenges and other team building and self-improvement values.
“We’re not building something and walking away,” Chapman said. “This is changing the way people think, teaching them the importance of education. And it’s teaching kids about child trafficking, protecting themselves, hygiene, and other basic things that we sometimes take for granted.”
This wasn’t always an easy trip for Chapman. “The level of poverty did actually surprise me. These people don’t have running water. They don’t even have the right to running water because they’re [living] on illegal land. It’s a lot to absorb. But she was equally surprised by the level of pride and joy she saw in the families involved with Magic Bus. “[The children] desperately wanted me to meet their parents and go to their homes. They were really excited about [being a part of Magic Bus].”
Read on below to see some of Chapman’s favorite moments from her trip to Mumbai.
"Throughout my trip, I was able to meet with so many people who play a vital role in the success of Magic Bus, including founder, Matthew Spacie. Here, Matthew explains a new app that has been created to monitor every session that takes place daily across the country, and the attendance."
"During my trip I met with workers in Zari units who create exquisite brocades in fine gold and silver threads through an intricate weaving process. Many of the embroideries and embellishments that you see within our collections are done in communities that have been impacted by Magic Bus."
"I met a woman named Punita Singh while in Mankhurd who shared her Magic Bus story--her son joined the program three years ago and is now a Community Youth Leader that delivers Magic Bus sessions to other children within the community!"
"Magic Bus is a non-profit organization that lifts communities in India out of poverty through the power of play. Activities for the children are created to help them look at local issues such as trafficking, sanitation, and continuing education and provides them tools to find solutions to make more informed choices."
"During my time in India, I was able to partake in one of the monthly Magic Bus parent meetings. It was an eye-opening experience meeting with the mothers of the children who are part of the organization and hear them speak about the challenges they face and how Magic Bus has positively impacted their families."