Udaipur [Rajasthan], Nov 13 (ANI-BusinessWireIndia): SevaMandir is today one of India’s leading non-profit development organizations, working with 360,000 people across 700 villages of southern Rajasthan.

This weekend SevaMandir celebrated its 50th anniversary year with AapnoMelo (‘Our Fair’ in Mewari dialect).

1,500 villagers, staff from SevaMandir and other pan-Indian NGOs, plus representatives of government, donors, corporate organizations came together to celebrate 50 years’ collaboration and to discuss how the villagers and SevaMandir should continue to work towards their goal of more humane, just and sustainable society and together face the challenges of the next half-century.

The fair was an expression of energy, joy and thoughtful collaboration.

Saturday saw games, stalls showcasing the work of SevaMandir and other NGOs, music and theatre performances. The Melo was officially opened by Arjun Lal Meena, MP.

SevaMandir President Ajay Mehta and CE Priyanka Singh reflected on its founding values and its work today in partnership with the villagers of southern Rajasthan.

“Seva Mandir has been able to make changes in the communities because the citizens let us in and led things their own way. So far the initiative for development work in the villages has mostly come from SevaMandir, but there have been several successful people’s initiatives such as Balwadis and pastureland renewal. Now it’s time for the initiative to move to the villagers,” said Priyanka Singh.

In the afternoon, groups of villagers and NGO staff discussed the aspirations of young people, peri-urban governance, environmental protection, relevance of rural life, importance of collectivism, and self-governance.

Speakers highlighted the need for more employment and better schools in rural areas, the importance of collective responsibility for development, and the observation that poverty always affects girls the most, reducing their life opportunities.

The day ended with a traditional cultural programme enjoyed by all.

Sunday began with a PrabhatPheri. Hundreds of rural villagers marched through the town alongside SevaMandir staff to raise awareness of the NGO’s work.

In the closing ceremony, people from the rural communities and past and current staff of the NGO reflected on SevaMandir and its work over the last 50 years.

A recap of the weekend’s activities in photographs preceded a speech by Gulab Chand Kataria, Home Minister of Rajasthan.

He said that SevaMandir had sought out and helped improve the status of the most underprivileged in society. Proof of SevaMandir’s beliefs and effectiveness is that everyone sits on the same jajam (carpet), irrespective of caste, creed or sex.

CE Priyanka Singh thanked all involved and the Melo came to a formal close.

“SevaMandir was conceived 100 years ago and founded 50 years ago. Now we must look to the future. If SevaMandir’s 50 years have taught us anything it is that to deepen democracy we must give the villagers the opportunity to participate in the development process,” said Ajay Mehta. (ANI-BusinessWireIndia)

This is published unedited from the ANI feed.