Proud to be a Person Who Stutters and Member of a Self-Help Assocation in Mali (Zan Camara)

zanAbout the author:  My name is Mr. Zan Camara.

Born in 1978 with a masters degree in management at the University of Mali and member of the Association to overcome stuttering in Mali since its creation in 2005 to the present day.

I’m a person who stutters, living in Mali (Africa). As most people who stutter (PWS), I began stuttering early in childhood.

It’s only when I became an adult that I fully realized the negative impact that stuttering may have on a person. In addition, if not properly handled, it can become a real obstacle to our personal, educational and professional developments. Once Mali got access to Internet, I searched the world wide web about stuttering resources, since Africa seriously lacks appropriate structures and Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) specialized in stuttering to take care and treat PWS.

My search got me in touch with the Stuttering Association l’Association Parole-Bégaiement (APB) from France that at the time was directed by Mrs. Anne-Marie Simon. This association’s commitment towards French African countries gave lots of hopes to adults who stutter and parents of children who stutter and motivated the rise of many self-help groups of PWS throughout French Africa.

That’s how I became involved in the Association Vaincre le Bégaiement (AVB, self-help “To overcome stuttering”) upon its inception in 2005 by Mrs. Diallo Oumou Sidibé, as deputy member for Mrs. Anne-Marie Simon, to combine our efforts in our struggle against stuttering in Mali.

The setting up of this association allowed a greater awareness of the general population about stuttering and to group PWS, mostly children and students.

Since 2005, we have been able to celebrate the International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) supported by our country’s government. This worldwide yearly event gave us a unique opportunity to talk about stuttering in the media.

At international level, I was instrumental to have the AVB of Mali to become a member of the International Stuttering Association (ISA), thanks to Moussa Dao’s and Joseph Lukong’s leaderships.

I further facilitated our cooperation with the APB and the Stuttering Foundation of America (SFA) to share documents about stuttering and to attend various conferences and workshops.

Given the lack of treatment, support and specialized SLPs in Africa, I organized, for the first time in Mali, the visit of a delegation of “Orthophonistes du Monde” (Worldwide SLPs) directed by Mrs. Sylvie Brignone. The involvement of this benevolent organization was instrumental to enhance the knowledge and skills of the Association and to boost the efforts in the field of stuttering in Mali. I also concluded a partnership with students in speech pathology of the University Jean Décrois of Lille (France), who were coming to Mali in training each year to take care of children who stutter. The help of these trainees was an important support to take care of the stuttering children who were truly motivated.

Finally, my attendances to the conferences/workshops of the APB, the International Fluency Association (IFA) and of the International Stuttering Association (ISA) have given me lots of hope and self-confidence to overcome stuttering, to diffuse our efforts in Mali and to share our related experiences.

I am hopeful that with an on-going partnership and of mutually beneficial exchanges/relations with SLP’s specialized in stuttering, we will be able overcome stuttering in Africa, or at least to lower its negative impacts.

Thank you

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Proud to be a Person Who Stutters and Member of a Self-Help Assocation in Mali (Zan Camara) — 19 Comments

  1. Mr. Zan Camara

    It is interesting to read about your journey in Mali. I know that there are cultural differences in many areas between Africa and the United States. I am wondering if there are similarities and differences in the way stuttering is perceived in Mali compared to the U.S. It is truly inspiring as a speech-language pathology master’s student to see the way you advocated for yourself by seeking out additional stuttering resources that eventually led to a deeper involvement in stuttering advocacy for other people. You have proven that advocacy for both yourself and others can be beneficial for providing hope and self-confidence. Thank you for sharing your story.

    -Whitney Phillips

    • thanks Withney for the comments. Stuttering is characterized in Africa and Mali a lack of research and therapist who specializes in stuttering. Despite this, we get together to talk about stuttering and support. People who stutter have no support for the treatment of stuttering. They are not knowledgeable about stuttering. With our association and our means very low we of support to people who stutter in the self-help group. I share also the experience and knowledge to other members of the group. Our association is composed mainly of children and students. and there is no also qualified therapists

  2. Hi Mr. Zan Camara,

    I read your post and found it very inspiring! It is so great that there are people like you who work hard to bring awareness and support for PWS in Mali. It is amazing that you have received the support from so many people and organizations. One thing I’ve learned during my Master’s speech-pathology program is the importance of advocating for myself and others. You are a great example of how far advocating for others can go. I would love to hear more about the changes you’ve seen in your community in regards to the way people respond to PWS and even any changes you’ve noted in the children who stutter. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Hi Lilli, thank you for reading my story. I inform you that with the creation of our association we are reached each year to celebrate the world day of stuttering in Mali. This celebration we invite people who stutter and authorities on stuttering. This opportunity for us to talk about stuttering to the public and the media. the most challenge is to conduct research on stuttering in Mali and to strengthen the skills of existing therapists and members.

  3. Mr. Zan Camara,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad there are people like you who wish to spread awareness of stuttering and further it’s research. I am currently a second year graduate student, and I was curious if you had any advice on bringing awareness to stuttering here in the United States? If you could share one piece of advice, what might that be? Thank you!

    • Thank you for reading my story. The experience that I lived under stuttering in Mali that I can pass on to people who stutter in the United States is solidarity among people who stutter. People who stutter should regroup between them according to a calendar well defined to talk about stuttering between them by sharing the experiences and challenges. At home in Mali, we get together every weekend to talk about stuttering with or without speech-language pathologist. It is very difficult for a single person overcome his stuttering. people who stutter should talk to overcome stuttering

  4. Mr. Zan Camara,
    I found your story to be very inspirational. It’s great to hear how you were able to connect Mali to all these helpful organizations, as well as advocating for yourself and other PWS. I’m curious about how people who don’t stutter react to stuttering in Mali. Here in the U.S. it can be a topic that people avoid talking about, (a taboo word), but I wasn’t sure if that was also true in Mali, Africa. Thank you for sharing your story!
    -Christina Sinn

    • Thank you; In Mali before the creation of the Association the stuttering was a taboo. Through our action we can to gradually educates parents about stuttering and people who stutter. Our action is slowed by lack of therapists specializing in the treatment of stuttering. each year we celebrate World Day of stuttering with the support of the authorities. every day that passes new people incorporate the association.

  5. Mr. Camara,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am a first-year graduate student in speech-language pathology, and am learning about stuttering treatment. Your story reminded me that stuttering is usually addressed from the perspective of the speaker, however it is only an issue because of the way listeners react. If treatment is focused on people who stutter, only half of a two-sided problem is addressed. I plan to work in an elementary school someday. Because of your story about raising awareness in your community, I will make an effort to educate students and create a culture of understanding with regard to stuttering in my school. Thank you!
    – Anna Weisbrod

  6. Mr. Zan Camara,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences! Your story was so inspirational that you have made so many strides in your country for people who stutter. I was wondering since you have internet access is telepractice for speech therapy services used in your country since there is a lack of specialized SLP’s? I also wondered how people in Mali view people who sutter? Thank you!

    • Thank you for reading my story. People who stutter in Africa or Mali have all access to the internet. Regarding me, the internet got much help in terms of research on stuttering and make friends. I fight with my classmates to seek partners for stuttering. I intend to solicit support for a study on the stuttering to the Mali.On celebrates every global day of stuttering in Mali. people who stutter and parents more and more interested in stuttering.

  7. Mr. Zan Camara,
    Thank you for sharing your story! I am a first year graduate student in speech language pathology and am taking a Fluency class this semester. I see that you wrote that Africa seriously lacks appropriate structures and SLPs. How difficult would it be for an individual who stutters to find an SLP where you live? Are there any at all in your area?
    Thank you!

    • Thank you for reading my story. In Africa, it is ‘ a lack of speech-language pathologist specializing in the care of stuttering. Very often working with speech therapists interested in stuttering. In some countries, there is even no speech therapist. To fill the void, we often seeks partnerships with developed countries to help by the capacity building with modern methods. are you interested in supporting us someday? I have also worked with students in speech-language pathology

  8. Hi Mr. Zan Camara,
    Thank you for taking the time to tell your story. Since the visit of a delegation of “Orthophonistes du Monde” has there been any more efforts to explore stuttering in Mali? When originally exploring resources for stuttering, were you able to read people in other countries experiences with stuttering? How did your experience contrast with others? What are the next steps, in your opinion, for Mali?

    Thank you for your time,

    Mackenzie Langston

    • Hi Machenzie
      The partnership with orthophoniste du Monde a us lot help to raise awareness and motivate people on stuttering. It was the first with people who stutter. In Mali and Africa specialists of stuttering are very rare. Currently our association work with the association of speech-language pathologists to demystify and improve the assumption of stuttering. To see the efforts and sustain outcomes sought another partnership to train speech-language pathologists and the members of the association on the management of stuttering in particular in children.

  9. Hello Mr. Zan Camara,

    Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. I am a graduate student studying to become an SLP and it saddens me that Africa does not have enough SLPs. How long did it take you to find an SLP that helped you move into a more positive outlook of stuttering? How do people in Africa react to someone who stutters and how have you reacted? We talk a lot about staying positive and how everyone has a story to tell, and I just want to thank you for sharing your story!

    Thanks again,
    Amber Kimrey

  10. Hi Mr. Camara,
    Your story highlights how technology can make the world a smaller place through the dissemination of information and the ability to network with others. You have been instrumental in making resources and information available to others who stutter in Africa. Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. Hi Zan

    So happy to find you here and read your story. You are such an amazing and important assett to the stuttering community in your country and I’m proud to know you.

    With great respect,