Our common history

My dear Indian friends,

It’s been many weeks or months since Sachin asked me to write an article for the TISA blog about how TISA was formed. It is about 1.15 on Thursday morning, and I am waiting for an American webinar to start. The webinar starts at two o’clock my time, but nine o’clock in the evening American time. It is a weekly webinar about how to make money on the American stock market. This is one of the journeys I decided to make because of the changes in my life since February 2006. I ran out of time, so I finished this on Friday the first of May.

In 2006 I made a momentous decision to avoid avoidance. This meant that I would no longer avoid speaking, or avoid going to places where I might have to speak, or avoid particular words. One of the first tasks I set myself was to telephone every member of my family and talk about my stammer and tell them I was going to seek out ways to reduce the amount I stammered. With hindsight this was a very good thing to do, but also contained one flaw. I had a goal to reduce the amount I stammered. By making this goal I was thinking about Stammering. Every successful person will tell you that what you think about you tend to focus on and that tends to happen. I only really learned this lesson during 2007/2008. But it started me on my path which has led to an amazing life and a goal of improving my communication. This is a more resourceful goal, because it looks ahead to what I want and it does not look backwards at what I want to leave behind.

The second thing I did was to look on the Internet about Stammering and I found an organisation called the International Stuttering Association (ISA). I e-mailed the chair, Mark Irwin, and asked if there was any way that I could help the ISA. He replied to me that the ISA and many national associations had received requests for help from people who stammered in both India and Pakistan. He asked me if I would raise the Stammering awareness in both India and Pakistan. My first instinct was to say no I had no idea how to do that, because I suspected that it would mean doing a lot of talking. But then I listened to my thoughts and I reminded myself that I had said I would avoid avoidance. So I replied to Mark, that I would begin in India and I would do the best that I was able to.

I had joined a number of Internet Stuttering groups. So I began by talking about this project in the Stuttering group’s, one of which was IndianPWS. Slowly people began to respond and I formed a team of people willing to work on this project. They were Indians living in India as well as Indians living in different parts of the world. They had a range of skills and a range of time available to help on work.

The first thing we decided we needed was a website of our own, specifically for Indians. This needed to be the beginnings of an Indian National website that all Indians wherever they lived would be happy to visit regularly and to keep alive and active. So we needed a Webmaster who was able to design such a website. We had a volunteer and the website was formed (http://www.indiastammering.com/).

There were many speech language pathologists (SLP) in India. Many of which were trained in India at AIISH (see http://www.indiastammering.com/content/view/52/43/). But there was also evidence that some Indians who trained in this profession left India to work in other parts of the world. One reason given for doing this was because of the stigma attached to Stammering in India. The SLPs in India as well as in many parts of the world did not automatically have detailed experience and expertise in treating Stammering. This resulted in little coordination.

Because there appeared to be no central place for people who stammered in India to go to, we decided that we needed to form The Indians Stammering Association (TISA). Now it is one thing to have an idea like this and to say that an association like this was needed, but it’s another thing to actually think how such an association might function and work to the benefit of every stammerer in India. So I spent time looking at how some other national associations were set up and operated. Based on this kind of information I thought of what things might be useful for TISA. I then suggested how TISA might be set up and might work and I explained my thoughts on our website . You may be interested to know that there are 627 people registered in our website. If you are interested in looking at the ideas I suggested please go to http://www.indiastammering.com/isa-stammering-awareness-project/plans-for-tisa/. This will give you direct access to many of the ideas that I suggested during this planning stage in 2006.

During the succeeding months since this work was done some of the initial planning team had to move on to other tasks in their lives. But that initial impetus, given to help Indians to organise themselves to provide help to any Indian who stammered, has continued and grown under the guidance of Sachin. There are now self-help groups in several cities and there is an increasing dialogue with parts of the media. And as always, more hands make light work (?600 hands?), so the more people there are, who give a little of their time to help TISA, the faster TISA will grow.

TISA needs a lot of publicity. So the more every one of you (?600?) can talk or write about TISA inside India or in the world; in your local media or your national media or in any of the chat groups discussion forums you belong to, the faster TISA will grow.

To paraphrase a quote made by a famous American President, “ask not what TISA can do for you, but what you (?600 of you?) can do for TISA”. The more you do for TISA, the faster TISA will grow.

In 2006, TISA was just an idea. Now in 2009, TISA is a living, growing National Association. I thank everybody who has played a part in taking the idea, the dream, and producing the fine bouncing baby it is today. Different people have helped in many different ways and I think you should all congratulate yourselves. TISA has been born and thrives. TISA needs a lot of love and attention to grow into adulthood where it will have a life of its own.

So what lies ahead? This is purely in your own hands. For my own part I would expect that you will increase the number of self-help groups in different cities and increase the cooperation between the self-help groups. When the time is appropriate you will have more meetings or conferences. These will begin with half a day or a day meetings and in time with more interest could expand into two or three-day conferences. To begin with, the conferences might be regional, and then sometime you will have national conferences. When you manage to find a good fundraiser you will be able to pay for some people who stammer to begin setting up the physical structure of TISA.

I will be watching with a great deal of interest to see how TISA develops and at what speed you can increase the help given to more people who stammer in India. Can you reach another 500 people in 2009? If there is any way I can help in this process I will be very willing to do so.

A few weeks earlier I advised Sachin that I was starting a new project to raise Stammering awareness in Asia. So I’m looking forward to a time when TISA will be comfortable holding an Asian Stammering conference. Again if anybody reading this would be interested in helping in such a project please do not hesitate to contact me at keithmaxkb@yahoo.com.

I wish you all well and I welcome any work that any of you (?600+?)can do for TISA. As I have said before the more you can do for TISA, the faster TISA will grow.

Keith

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