Gangaben Patni

Gangaben Patni

Matsyagandha Co-operative

"Matsyagandha is like my second home. A few years back I could not even hope of earning my own living. Married at an early age, I was never allowed to even step out of the house by my husband. He brutally hit me everyday and finally one day he threw me out of the house." Tears stream down Gangaben's wrinkled face as she talks about her past.

Gangaben had to leave the house with her children when her whimsical husband decided he had had enough of his wife. She had no home, no work and of course no food to provide her kids with.

It is then, that Gangaben recalled Shantaben and Kalluben who she knew worked at the fish trading centre in Chamanpura. They advised her to immediately join Matsyagandha on hearing about her circumstances and helped her earn a living.

Initially new to the profession, she had various hitches like not being acknowledges by her fellow vendors and unable to understand the tricks of the trade. Over time and through various interactive sessions with the people at the Federation and the vendors, she settled in.

"As a member of the Matsyagandha Co-operative, I got an opportunity to attend trainings for skill upgradation and skill diversification. From simply selling fishes, I could now rear fishes in a fish pond and even make fish pickles out of dry fish. We were also taken for an exposure visit to Bengal to understand how modern fish markets function. It was a big experience for me. We learnt a lot from that trip. I tried to adopt some of the marketing techniques which I saw there. All this helped me improve my income to a great extent.

All of this did not come easy. It was sheer hard work, dedication and willingness to learn that has helped Gangaben reach such a confident state.

"Today I am one of the board members of Sewa Co-operative Federation. 11 years of my journey in the co-operative has changed my life forever. Because of a meager income initially, I wasn't able to send my children to school but today I am able to pay for my grandchildren's education. This, for me is my biggest achievement," She concluded with a smile and started conversing with the new entrants at the office with great ease.