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Innovative bracelets earn group a whopping order!

Little did the Siddheshwari Sakhi Mandal (self-help group) in Patan realise that their talent will be recognised and put to optimum use. The group known for making hand bracelets struck gold after bagging an order of delivering 10 lakh bracelets to the Swami Narayan Temple in Baroda by 2015 after participating at the Baroda Saras Mela (fair).

Much deserved are the women in the group who belong to the Parmar community (SC). Societal oppression from the upper class was a regular feature for them to deal with.

Having put in intense hours of labour work in agriculture, the group decided to move on by decisively stepping into making bracelets, japa mala (accessory used for chanting), and other accessories. They were ably trained by Manjula Vaghela, a member of the group. She brought together people who were genuinely interested to learn and formed the sakhi mandal.

“We set out to train and it took us nearly 6 months to gain confidence that we could indeed deliver the goods by making these accessories such as bracelets etc,” explained Manjula.

Having gained in confidence and with Mission Mangalam showing faith in their abilities by providing them with necessary market linkages, the group began to set up stalls in Patan district bus stand to showcase their skills. They even went to the extent of visiting nearby temples and setting up stalls.

“Yes there is travel, but we have learnt that this is part and parcel of managing your own livelihood, so we do not shy away from showcasing our products anywhere,” said Aruna Makwana, another member of the group

Mission Mangalam ensured that the group participates in the Saras melas across Gujarat, so that others can witness their talent.

“During the Saras Mela in Baroda, we had members from the Swami Narayan Temple come over and look at our work. They were impressed with our bracelets and have placed an order of 10 lakh such bracelets to be delivered to them before 2015,” said Manjula, with a beaming smile on her face.

The group on an average sells for Rs. 10,000 every month and during festive occasions such as Diwali and Shravan months, they sell close to Rs. 25,000 per month. All the members of the group earn a steady Rs. 3,000 per month to sustain their livelihood and have managed to balance their household work and profession.

“We give two-three hours soon after we have completed our household work in making these accessories. We have the support of our family,” said Lakshmi Vaghela, another member of the group.

The group procures its raw materials from Ahmedabad and Manjula’s husband offers his support to the group by shuttling to and fro from Ahmedabad to get them the required materials.

Women in the group are happy that this mode of livelihood generation has given them an opportunity to work from home. “It is convenient for us, as we can pursue this right from our houses,” said Champa Vaghela, another member of the group.

Siddheshwari Sakhi Mandal is indeed an example of how Mission Mangalam has provided the group with successful and innovative marketing platforms for their produced materials.

In sync with one of Mission Mangalam’s core objectives, the group is also provided with opportunities to participate at various fairs at district and state level to showcase their products.

This article features in the book ‘Good Governance : People’s Voice’ published by the Commissionerate of Information, Government of Gujarat

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