Mumbai: Swades Foundation, a philanthropic initiative of Zarina and Ronnie Screwvala, has been working for a couple of decades to uplift rural communities in Maharashtra by enabling them to come out of poverty. While India celebrates its 75th Independence Day, the Swades Foundation continues its commitment to build 75 Dream Villages in rural Maharashtra this year. Dream Village initiative of the Swades Foundation empowers communities to lead their village development by working on a holistic 360-degree rural development model.
The Swades Dream Village programme aims to create a sustainable governance model by focusing on its four core thematic areas of Water & Sanitation, Health & Nutrition, Education & Economic Development (Livelihood). It enables the transformation that ensures every village or rural household has access to an individual toilet, potable drinking water through taps at home, access to healthcare services, an education that makes learning joyous, and the community has opportunities for a diverse range of livelihoods. The initiative also focuses on plastic waste management, convergence, and leveraging government schemes such as building pucca houses, roads, etc. All this is achieved by building and nurturing community leadership through the Village Development Committees (VDCs) formed by the Swades Foundation with equal representation of men and women from the village. These VDCs create Village Development Plans and execute them to transform their villages into a Dream Village.
With 45 villages in the Raigad district of Maharashtra already declared as Swades Dream Villages and celebrations happening every week, the target of 75 Swades Dream Villages for this year will be achieved soon.
Commenting on the initiative, Ronnie Screwvala, Co-Founder at Swades Foundation, said, “We are beyond thrilled to see our vision of creating dream villages at scale moving to plans. This 75 Swades Dream Village in the 75th year of India’s Independence is our first step towards this initiative, and we look forward to scaling this up and building another 750 dream villages across Maharashtra and beyond in the next few years.” A village qualifies as a Swades dream village by achieving over 40 parameters bucketed into 5 S’s – Swachh (Clean), Sundar (Beautiful), Swasthya (Access to Health Care), Sakshar (Educated), and Saksham (Self-Reliant). But most importantly is the spirit within the community to come together and work towards transforming their village into a dream village. Swades has also established a proper monitoring and reporting mechanism to ensure that each parameter is tracked and reported. A team from Swades audits the completion of these parameters before they are announced as a Swades Dream Village.