I have been watching with some interest, a new pws who has been organizing Google hangout frequently with great energy. Couple of times, I bobbed in and out of these hangouts. He was conducting these hangouts in a very organized way- giving everyone plenty of time, without turning it in a personal monologue. He was also practicing and teaching others some solid basic techniques for better communication. I decided to interview this “secret superstar” volunteer of TISA. He is Bhupendra from Ujjain. Here is his life story as told to me:
I am Bhupendra Singh Rathore – from Nagda, Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh). I am pursuing my B Tech. in Textile Technology from M.L.V. Textile and Engineering College, Bhilwara. Currently I am in Final year. We are five members in my family. My father and brother work for Aditya Birla group, in Grasim industries pvt. Ltd. while my mother is housewife. My sister got married in Jaipur. My hobbies are travelling, writing poems, listening music, playing badminton and table tennis.
I suffered a lot in my life due to Stammering as any so many PWS suffer; simply I never lived my life – it seems. I always thought what others will think about me if I stammer, and that one constant concern ruined my life for about 21 years ( I am 21). I can’t eat what I want to eat, nor can I travel to places I want to travel – all because of that one worry, one obsession.
Lowest moment in my life came when, my teacher called me to speak in front of 150 students on violence vs. non violence in our Engineering College. Not a single word came out of my mouth for about 15 minutes! Possessed by great fear and shame, I ran away from the stage and came to my room and cried for about 5 hrs and then phoned my father: “I don’t want to continue my studies; No way…” But my father anyhow encouraged me: “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be fine one day, my son.”
Then, my search for healing and wholeness, brought me in touch with TISA. I understood, that only self help group meetings and courage can help a stammer in the long run. I began taking risks daily to learn something new, do something new. Life began changing around- slowly but certainly.
Actually, I came in contact with Tisa in the 1st year of my college. But I left it at that time because I was too young to understand the concept of acceptance and self-help . But Fate wanted to give me one more chance – fortunately. After the incidence I mentioned above – when I felt very low and lonely, I travelled to Delhi and Ahmadabad, for a 2 month internship. I grabbed this opportunity and attended a self-help group meeting in Delhi, and met Dixit sir, Abhay sir and Vishal Gupta sir; One discussion on acceptance in that meeting, really forced me to think about my own attitude towards stammering. I felt that I needed to change how I looked at my stammering.
Then, another BIG thing happened: I met Vipul bhai in Ahmadabad, who counseled me whenever I felt low and confused. I attended 4 SHG meetings in Ahmadabad. I still was often struggling and felt lost; At one such low point in my life, Vipul bhai asked me to take “initiative of helping others”. I began reaching out to others, to promote self-help, in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh – on phone, on hangouts. My life and my thoughts began changing slowly. So much so, today I wonder why was I so down and miserable?
We have done 7 hangouts meetings till date. And we are having many activities like group discussion, storytelling, tongue twister, poem reciting, jokes sharing etc. We also conduct some events every week to connect more pws with us – to offer them a social life, faith in themselves and the idea that life can be lived happily, even WITH stammering. Naturally, when we get together on hangouts etc. we encourage people to work on their communication skills, with or without “techniques” and have fun, above all.
As I have observed some people have improved a lot from 1st hangouts to 7th hangouts meet, and when they share that their life has begun to change after joining hangouts – I find it a truly high moment for me.
Yes, I do face problems with network connections, like many Indians (!). Sometime I just go to my friend’s rooms to conduct hangouts as internet connectivity is better in his area. Otherwise everything is coming along fine and I feel confident doing hangouts and other activities for TISA as a volunteer.
Looking back at my life, I think the three things, which have helped me a lot in turning my life around is: attending Regular SHG meetings; Taking risks in life and Taking initiatives. I could have waited for a magical therapist or a miracle program, to change my life. Perhaps the wait would have gone on for years. Instead, I said, even if self-help is rubbish let me check it out. And it works! Taking initiatives always works. I will never surrender my initiative to anyone however wise or well meaning they may be.
My future plans are: I want to continue these hangouts every week, to bring in some more hosts, and to start an in-person SHG in Southern Rajasthan. Because, face to face interactions also have a big role. And if we don’t go to remote areas in Rajasthan, who will?
Editor: wasn’t that inspiring? Wow! Well done Bhupendra! You are inspirational!