Jashodaben Makwana

Jashodaben Makwana

Home Care Co-operative

Jashodaben easily looks a decade older than her actual age. She is just 41 years old. Her face gives away the years of struggles she has been through.

Jashodaben comes from a family of marginal farmers. Her parents did not own their own lands. They worked as farmers on other people's lands and earned meager incomes. Being the eldest child, she was forced to quit her education post grade fifth to stay at home and take care of her younger siblings. Her parents barely earned enough to feed the children two meals a day.

Jashodaben was all of thirteen years when she was married off to a labourer of a textile mill. Not a long while passed, her husband lost his job because the mill shut down and refused to work eventually. Jashodaben knew she had to take a stand for her children so she could meet their daily needs and train them for independent futures. She says softly "I had no time to think about my inhibitions. I had to find a way to earn money and feed my children. When I set out to work, I found a job as a porter at the Kalupur Sabji Mandi".

"Since I was a woman and could not move as fast as the male labourers, I was often at the receiving end of my master's abuses. I was often upset and wanted to quit, but knew I had to feed my kids. My day started at 5:30 am early in the morning. My job comprised of carrying close to 60 kilograms of vegetables on my back all the way to the wholesale shop. We earned Rs. 5 for each round and so I tried my best to do as many as possible."

"My neighbors were well aware of the plight I was going through. One of them informed me about the SEWA Federation and how they help women find work. So I decided to visit their office. Without a second thought, I chose to become the member there. I attended several management and co-operative trainings. I was also trained in skills, housekeeping, patient care and senior citizen care. Ever since I joined Sewa, I have been earning a regular income and my work is not as tiresome. I earn close to Rs. 4000 a month. I got my elder daughter married and bought myself a house."

Jashodaben grins and mentions "But my biggest achievement was that I could educate both my daughters from the money that I saved in the bank after working here. Earlier I was the only person running the house but now my younger daughter contributes to the family's income. She is a graduate and has a job now. My dream has come true."

Talk about what she loves the most now, pat comes a reply from Jashodaben "Earlier no one respected me. I am confident and now I get a lot of respect in my community".