Sunday, April 20, 2008


PEOPLE who go to Caines Jannif to have their film developed or picture framed will place their orders with Bhanmati Govind.
They will think she is just a customer service staff while many know her as the woman with the nice personality at the popular photoshop on Victoria Parade.
But, Bhan, as she is known to her colleagues, is more than that. She has been working at Caines for 48 years and is the company's longest serving employee.
Born and bred in Flagstaff, Suva, Bhan has lived a life of struggle and knows how it feels to bear the fruits of one's labour.
Her parents, Latchman and Etwari Singh struggled to provide them a decent upbringing.
Growing up in Flagstaff was tough. Her father was a waiter at the Grand Pacific Hotel but her mother was a housewife.
Third in the family, Bhan never thought of what she wanted to be.
In fact, she took life a step at a time. Coming from a big family, Bhan always wanted to help the family. She was lucky to go to school on her father's small income.
"I have four sisters and a brother. Life was hard for us because my father was the only breadwinner but our parents made sure we had a roof over our heads and food on the table. Back then, things were cheap and my parents were able to support us.
"We helped each other a lot with whatever difficulties we faced. I never thought I would be working here at Caines Jannif."
Bhan went to Vatuwaqa Government Girls School, now Vatuwaqa Primary School, up to Class Eight but had to leave school to look for work.
She was only 13 when she started work and under the guidance of the late Ben Jannif, she learnt more than what she expected.
"I never found another job. I started working in sales and enjoyed it.
"I was taught a lot of things like how to be a cashier and how to work with clients and customers. It was something I never thought I would do but I am glad I was given the opportunity.
"In those days, Indian women were not allowed to work. They were responsible for looking after the family and do the work in the house but it did not apply to me because I wanted to help my family and I always thank Mr Jannif for giving me the opportunity to broaden my horizon."
Bhan's normal working day starts with taking orders from customers who want their pictures framed.
Working in sales helped her improve her personal and professional life. She became a more confident and persevering mother, wife and sales representative.
"I have made a lot of friends and am fortunate I have been working here for more than 40 years. I am married to Bal Govind and we live in Nasinu.
"I have two sons and we live a good life. I am glad my sons don't have to go through the hardship I went through when I was young.
"I don't regret finding employment at a young age but at that time I couldn't help it.
"If I had to give an advice, I would say education is very important in life."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online