When Mayfereen Ryntathiang joined the girls’ scout at 14, she recounts her experience as the most fulfilling when doing her part in social work activities and travelling across remote villages in Meghalaya. She wanted to visit more places and connect with her own people. That was when she gradually evolved into an informed youth by understanding the challenges of people in the interiors of Meghalaya, who lack social accountability and are plagued by poverty and injustice. She continued to volunteer through several youth-based programs and build her capacity to become a leading social and human rights activist. Her dream turned into reality in 2007 when she founded Grassroot along with a group of like-minded friends.
Grassroot is a Shillong-based non-governmental organization, committed to work with communities from an indigenous rights and gender perspective. Their first project was the Meghalaya Election Watch in 2008, when Ryntathiang and her team of young comrades took the initiative to analyze the affidavits of the contesting candidates of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, advocate for the introduction of NOTA (none of the above) as a voting option, and create awareness on the rights to not vote for non-eligible candidates as people’s leader.
Grassroot, with its sole purpose of addressing injustices and to protect, defend and promote indigenous peoples’ rights over decades now, has also been empowering rural communities through capacity building, skills development activities and sustainable livelihood programs. Amongst their most successful livelihood projects has been training the first generation of entrepreneurs for an ecotourism outlet at Mawlynnong in Meghalaya.
Watch the video to know more about Ryntathiang’s journey in her continued efforts to build a just and equitable society.
(Interviewed, produced and video edited by Nang Tanvi)