Mayfereen Ryntathian

Powerhouse for Indigenousness

Armed with a Masters in English Literature, Mayfereen recently completed a leadership and human rights course at Columbia University. The founder and head of Grassroot, she aims to encourage, empower and enhance people’s responsibility for societal change. Being a documentary filmmaker and script writer, she has attempted to showcase the lives of the khasis. She has also launched a ‘Speak Out’ campaign to raise funds for marginalised, abused women who cannot afford legal fees.

Mayfereen lives in Shillong in a cottage set within her tenderly cared for organic farm. She is one of the most caring, humble, down to earth individuals with a huge caliber. She is a passionate social worker with more than a decade of committed work put in the field of her choice. A Masters in English Literature she recently completed a leadership and human rights course at Columbia University with The International Indigenous Women Forum.
She founded and heads Grassroot, an NGO with its main objective being to encourage, empower and enhance people’s responsibility for societal change. She is actively associated with World Mountain People Association (WMPA), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to name a few. She has participated in various international conferences speaking out on human rights issues. She was a part of the Mountain Community Team to present a motion on anti-uranium mining in Meghalaya at the UNESCO in Paris. She represented the Presbyterian Church of India in Bangkok, Thailand in a workshop on Human Rights and was part of a South East Asian exposure trip on Violence against Women in Bangladesh. In 2016, she represented India at the United Nations Permanent Forum of Indigenous issues, at the UN Headquarters, New York, USA to lend a voice on land and cultural rights.
Mayfereen uses her skills as a documentary filmmaker and script writer to produce noteworthy documentaries like “Voice of the Voiceless” and “Hear our Voices- A Cry from the Himalayas”.
She initiated a documentation of khasi folklore, ‘The Peacock and the Sun’ into an animated form to create for children a deeper understanding of their roots while having wings. This animation is through a scholarship won from Million Kisses Foundation, USA.
Aware that the traditional wisdom of the value of edible medicinal herbs is depleting with the advent of commercialised products, she initiated the documentation of the use of these herbs in two villages, Mawbeh and Mawphlang, all of which was self-funded. These documentations have enabled the organisation to delve deeper into the subject matter of restoring the rich heritage of our people. This has earned her the scholarship from IIWF to pursue the subject further whereby 32 women of Khasi and Jaintia hills practitioners’ were documented as part of the wisdom and traditional bank of her people. Her book is being launched on 18th August 2017.
As president of Grassroot,(www.grassroot2007.org) it is her endeavour to encourage young passionate women and men to realise their potentials. In December 2016, she and her team of young women launched a ‘Speak Out’ campaign to help women get legal access in the presence of a snail slow legal system. This initiative is to raise funds to cater to those marginalised, abused women who cannot afford legal fees.


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