It is with some sadness, we reproduce this communication from Jim CAROOPEN, Mauritius; I hope we will learn something from this and brace ourselves for the marathon, so that the spirit of Friends 4 Fluency carries on in Asia:
Mauritius: Friends 4 Fluency announces its winding up Dear friends, I am writing to inform you that during a general assembly held on 27th June 2010, the members of Friends 4 Fluency have decided by six votes for and one vote against to put an end to the activities of the self-help group, and to proceed with its winding up.
It is with regret that we announce this decision, but at the same time, it is a well-thought and concerted decision that has been reached after a frank and open discussion. We have taken into account both the undisputable requirement to maintain on the island an organisation that could provide information and support with regard to stuttering, but also the motivation and availability of each one of us to take responsibility for this work. In very simple terms, we found that we shared a common desire to continue to work for the well-being of persons who stutter in Mauritius, but at an individual level, no one of us was ready to get involved within the organisation in a sustainable manner.
It should be said that the discussions were very animated, but at the end we reached a decision that reflected our situation in a honest manner and with which everyone was happy. In any case, however, we could not escape the fact that in some way we were setting aside the hope that Anne-Marie Simon had to see our group develop into a full-fledged organisation for persons who stutter in Mauritius, i.e. one that is widely recognised and that can bring PWS, parents, SLPs and government authorities to work together. Indeed, one of the underlying objectives of our intensive therapy week of March 2008 was to prepare us to undertake this kind of responsibility in the future – but regretfully it is clear that we have now forfeited our rights to lead this project.
As far as I am concerned, I had both the motivation and the time to continue my involvement within Friends 4 Fluency, but I felt it was important that I leave the lead and the responsibility of new projects to other members of the group. Indeed, I had taken the initiative for a lot of projects of the group since its creation, and I am convinced that no group whatsoever can be sustainable if it is built around one single person. Moreover, it was according to this line of thought that a new organisational structure for was set up in June 2009, and a managing committee of three persons was elected. Their main role was to lead Friends 4 Fluency into the future. But during our general assembly on 27th June 2010, most of the members of the group expressed their lack of motivation to be involved anymore within the group. From that time on, it was clear in our heads that the Fluency Initiative had reached an end, and we rather agreed on how we wanted to proceed with the winding up.
Just to recall, the Fluency Initiative in Mauritius started in September 2005, following my unexpected meeting with Mark Irwin, who was at that time the president of the International Stuttering Association. The unsettling discussions that took place during that meeting ultimately lead to the creation of a self-help group for persons who stutter, the first one in Mauritius, which attracted more and more members, and eventually became a registered association, before reverting back to being a self-help group under the name of Friends 4 Fluency. The Fluency Initiative has contributed to bring about many positive improvements for persons who stutter all over the island. The self-help groups that were regularly held between 2005 to 2009 have provided PWS with the opportunity to meet other persons sharing the same situation, to discuss freely about stuttering, to learn about stuttering and to benefit from the expertise of Anne-Marie Simon who came twice to Mauritius to participate in a stuttering awareness campaign in 2007, and to deliver an intensive therapy session in 2008. As an attachment to this note, we are sending our souvenir album, which regroups a few photos of some memorable events of the Fluency Initiative.
Before concluding this note, I would like to briefly remind how far this whole adventure has been a defining moment in my life, and has helped me achieve both personal and professional development. The encounter with Mark has been a decisive element, in that it prompted me to adopt a new approach to my stuttering. At the very right time, Mark said the right words that pushed me to do those simple things that lead me to regain self-confidence. These first steps were overwhelming and prompted me to go further ahead, and eventually to make a second important meeting, this time with Anne-Marie Simon. I have learned and received so much from Anne-Marie! But what I keep as being more precious are her friendship, her openness and the comfort of knowing that during harsh times, she has been present to take my defence. Between these two heroes of my life, there are of course a lot and a lot of friends, parents, SLPs and persons from diverse fields that have supported me, guided me, and enriched my life in an incredible manner.
On behalf of all the members of Friends 4 Fluency, I would like to convey a big thank you to all the persons who have participated to our exciting adventure in one way or another; a big thank you to those who were present on the first day, and to those who were present on the last day; a big thank you to all parents, friends, SLPs who have been here to encourage us in our journey, to all the persons who have provided us with a place to meet, to journalists and bloggers who have help us spread our messages; and last but not least, a very big thank you to all our friends abroad for their support and caring attention to us, all through this venture. There are so many of them that I would prefer not to cite any name, by fear of missing out someone. But I would nonetheless like to say a special thank you to Joseph Lukong, who is the one who had the marvellous idea of putting me in contact with Mark!
So, that all folks! Here ends Friends 4 Fluency! Jim CAROOPEN 18th July 2010