The first meeting of Bangalore stammering SHG happened on 13-Sep-2009 and it went on till 11-Apr-2010 with at least a few participants. After this there was a meeting in which nobody turned, up other than me, and then there were no meetings for a long time. After a few months Karthk took the initiative to rejuvenate it and decided to meet at Cubbon park on alternate days in the morning from 28-Aug-2010. The details of the meeting on 28-Aug-2010 can be read at http://t-tisa.blogspot.in/2010/08/bangalore-shg-meeting-on-28-aug-2010.html and http://stammer.in/menu-shg-activities/57-bengaluru-shg/373-bangalore-shg-meeting-on-28-aug-2010.html. This went on for some time but didn’t continue for long.
What went wrong?
When I look back I feel the factors which contributed to the downfall of SHG initially were these; expectation of the participants that they would find a cure in SHG, not much attractive activities in SHG which help them in improving the communication skill and the same person doing the role of coordinator. Let me go through these points a bit more in the following sections.
Most of the people consider SHG as a place where they could learn some techniques which would cure their stammering. Most of these people come to SHGs after trying different methods like speech therapy, psychotherapy etc. They would have not seen much improvements in their situation or would have experienced relapse after seeing improvements. They think SHG might give them a lasting cure. SHG surely is a place where they can learn some techniques used by fellow stammerers but TISA and SHGs try to convey the message that there is no known cure for it. In other words, it remains with us throughout the life though there are some cases in which a cure is reported. We can manage it. For that, we should accept ourselves as stammerers and learn how to deal with it. We have to do those things from which we always used to run away and work on our communication skill. SHG is to be used for that. Whenever these points about cure and acceptance are conveyed some of the participants become upset which subsequently lead to them not turning up. May be, the coordinator in me failed in conveying the points clearly or in a more diplomatic way.
The second point was about working on communication skills and giving opportunities do things which the participants were scared to do. Though the SHG was run taking into consideration the views of the participants and we had some activities like slow reading, speaking about a topic etc, there was no structured agenda. By nature, most of the stammerers are introverts and they do not open up. So there were not much inputs about the activities they wanted in SHG. So most of the time it was limited to introductions, discussions about the problems faced, practicing some of the techniques and very rarely somebody presenting a topic. It would not have helped them in improving their communication or attacking their fears.
The last point was about the same person running the SHG continuously. Initially though Amit was available as a coordinator, I had to take up the role of coordinator due to his non availability. So the SHG was run on a monotonous way, though I used to take the feedback from the participants on the activities they wanted. Unfortunately as pointed out earlier, not much ideas came out. Though we tried running the SHGs by identifying a volunteer who would take over the coordinator role in a particular meeting, it was again run in the same way! So fresh ideas were not coming up.
How the SHG was revived
Though the SHG was dormant for more than a year, some more people like Dinesh joined the SHG google groups and they suggested, modelling the SHG meetings on some of the famous personality development and communication skill development programs. The discussions went on for some time and Dinesh planned a meeting on 26-Feb-2012 at Madiwala. The details can be read at http://t-tisa.blogspot.in/2012/02/bangalore-shg-meet-26th-feb.html
How is it different now?
Though the SHG still conveys the message that there is no cure for stammering, that is more than offset by addressing the other two issues with the previous SHG. May be, the present coordinators are better than me in conveying the messages!
As was mentioned earlier, the SHG meetings are now modelled on some of the concepts from well-known programs. They are well structured and the attendance in the meeting is steady. This itself is a proof that the people are getting benefits and are enjoying the activities. I understand that they also plan get-together and some outdoor activities. The details of the meeting are available in TISA blog.
The meetings are now run by different people on a periodic basis. It helps in giving a chance to different people in taking up leadership role and also in bringing in fresh ideas. Previously it was held in Madiwala and now it has come back to the old place of Cubbon park. Some of the old participants like Pramod, Karthik are still active. They also have a WhatsApp group which helps in staying connected.
This means most of the issues plaguing the initial SHG were taken care of and it is running successfully now. Attending SHGs will be the best way to deal with stammering. If interested the person can even take over the role of the coordinator! So please go ahead and join the Bangalore stammering SHG by sending a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.