Village Square Youth Hub organised the first edition of Bharat Youth Dialogues that seeks to engage India’s youth in shaping the future narratives. Swara Bhaskar was present on the occasion to share her experience of working in a village that transformed her completely.
The first edition of Bharat Youth Dialogues kicked off in Delhi recently. Actress Swara Bhaskar, who took a fellowship in the third year of college, shared that as a literature student, she too worked in a village in Kesla that educated her about the struggles of rural people.
Calling it one of the best decisions in her life and an eye-opening experience, Swara said, "I initially took the opportunity as a vacation as I thought that she would get the chance to travel. But to my surprise, working in Kesla and learning about the struggles of people inspired me. It changed everything that I wanted to do in my life - before that I wanted to go abroad but after that I never wanted to leave."
As a student, Swara was interested in stories and the novels that I was reading in college were not set in the 'Delhi of 2000s'. So she thought that working in a village would give a glimpse of the real India.
"When I reached Kesla, I was assigned as an NGO Pradhan to the Kesla project which was in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh. My idea of villages was the one that I have seen in Bollywood. I never knew what lives villagers had in real life except for what I saw in Bollywood. My greatest learning was awareness, empowerment and agency have nothing to do with whether you are in a city or a village. We are taught that since we are in a city, we are more capable. But the truth is that we are only more privileged," she added.
Village Square champions the lives of India. It’s about opening people’s eyes to a different way of life and be ambassadors. Describing about the organisation's purpose, Lyndee Prickitt, Director, Village Square says, “We want people living in urban areas to go to rural areas and experience a different way of life. We want people to come back and inform your thought processes, conversations, life choices and inspire you not to forget those living in villages.”
The idea is to talk more about rural India and give them the voice. Explains Lyndee, “There are so many enriching stories in India coming from rural areas that are unusual and enriching. These come from the pockets of India that we don’t usually see. It’s fulfilling and enriching for me to share stories of rural India and bring them to the forefront.”
Village Square achieves this by offering various programmes as fellowships to students living in urban areas. It motivates students to work for villages to transform the lives of local rural population. Some of the programmes that have changed lives of rural population directly include providing sanitary pads for villagers, building toilets, working with solar energy and teaching farmers how to get seeds or cultivate mushrooms in their kitchens.
"Some programmes have had a direct influence on people but sometimes, it takes long for the change to happen. That is why we expect more people to come and bring the achievements of rural India to the forefront," adds Lyndee.