Priyamvada Singh

Revamping her Roots

After a successful career in media for eight years, Priyamvada decided to pack her bags and set out on a mission to restore her village to its former glory.

After a successful career in media for eight years and having worked on popular TV shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati, Jhalak Dikhhla Ja, etc., Priyamvada found her way back to her native village in Rajasthan. During a small break from work to visit her family, she took an impromptu trip to her village Meja. As she realized that her ancestral fort lay neglected there, she took it upon herself to restore its original glory.

After packing her bags from Mumbai, she set up inside the fort with minimal amenities. Initially, her family was quite reluctant to have her - a single girl - stay there all alone, and the entire village was also skeptical about her move. But her hard work and determination replaced all their doubts with admiration, and what started as a passion project of personal nature soon transformed into a movement of community upliftment.

As she revived traditional construction styles for the renovation process like dry masonry instead of plaster, lime paste instead of paint, etc, she created employment opportunities for a lot of retired masons/artisans and helped them rediscover their professions. After revamping their skills on this project, few of them even got offers to work on some prestigious conservation projects within the state.

Considering that a girl was initiating the project, many local women joined in as labourers – after all, their families had no reluctance about sending their wives and daughters to work under another woman. This gave Priyamvada a first-hand glimpse of women empowerment as she saw the rising confidence levels of these women once they realized their own potential beyond domestic chores.

Another significant step towards people's welfare is a community library, which is being set up within the fort premises with the generous contribution of Priyamvada’s associates from the city, who have already donated more than 2000 books for this endeavour. Since this area lacks public libraries, this initiative will open a world of avenues for the locals.

Priyamvada is also using her experience in the media to transform Meja into a cultural hub where people from her former work life blend with people from her village to together create mutual opportunities and happiness. For instance, a short film titled ‘Blouse’ was recently shot there (directed by one of Priyamvada’s friends). Some villagers acted in it and others worked as local crew, and this not only gave them an earning opportunity, it also put them on an international platform as this film went on to win the ‘Best Short Film’ at NYIFF, got screened at other international festivals, and even saw a theatre release at PVR Cinemas.

As Meja fort rises from its slumber, it raises along with it the most underutilized potential in this country – the rural community. This fort will soon become a cozy home stay where the villagers from different walks of life will come together under the guidance of Priyamvada to offer exquisite warmth and hospitality to their guests, but while there’s still some time for that, all these initiatives are surely giving a facelift to this little village.

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