It was a fine morning of 23rd October, just one day post the International Stammering Awareness Day. The members of Pune SHG were as enthusiastic, if not more than me, to meet and interact with the public and spread awareness about stammering.
We continued exploring the premises of the fort meeting and speaking with people as we went. Little did we knew that a pleasant surprise awaited us. Inside the fort, we met a group of speech therapists from Mumbai who were here for vacation.
We all agreed on meeting at Shaniwar Wada, a historical fort located at the heart of Pune. As planned the members arrived at the Shanivar Wada gate at 10:30 am. Some moments were captured on camera before we proceded to interact with the people.
Clouds of nervousness surrounded us when time came for us to interact with people and we started discussing about whom should we send first. Eventually we settled for going all at once. There was a guy sitting at one corner of the fort entrance. When we all surrounded him, and started talking about stammering and acceptance one by one. He also got engaged in the conversation with us and it went really well.
The person who called stammering as a result of our sins also ended up forcing us to meet a famous baba to get a cure.
After going for a polite handshake with him, we proceeded to the next crowd, this time, less nervous and lot more confident. We split up into two groups and started interacting with all the people sitting at the fort entrance. The crowd we encountered was very supportive and we enjoyed talking with them as much as they did.
By the time we entered inside the fort, we were so much charged with enthusiasm that we started interacting with large groups instead of individuals. The energy and passion was visible in each stammerer’s eyes when they were talking about TISA and acceptance and their journey with stammering.
We encountered different groups including elderly people, people on a business trip, students, foreigners and couples. We approached all of them starting with the same question, “Why do people stammer”. The responses which we got from people varied a lot. Some people were spot-on with the response when they indicated it could be either genetic or learned during childhood. Some people guessed it could be due to nervousness, fear or anxiety. Some said it’s because you think faster than you speak, while some went up to the extent of saying it’s a result of the sins you did in the previous birth. The person who called stammering as a result of our sins also ended up forcing us to meet a famous baba to get a cure.
We continued exploring the premises of the fort meeting and speaking with people as we went. Little did we knew that a pleasant surprise awaited us. Inside the fort, we met a group of speech therapists from Mumbai who were here for vacation. They were a bunch of awesome people who were very enthusiastic about our work. They listened to us carefully while we explained our work, and how we manage to do it free of cost. They told us about the origin of different speech techniques which we practice at the SHG and also informed us how they study patients who stammer. They appreciated our efforts and agreed upon the fact that they need a platform like this where their patients can openly speak without the fear of being judged. We concluded the talk with a group hug and a selfie.