FOM Pune Meet – report 2


Volunteer Training Programme Module 1

Although I have attended several meetings of Friends of Max, this was the first time I was participating in a patient meeting that doubled up as a volunteer training program.  

The patient meeting at Sahayadri Hospital reminded me of the slogan of Friends of Max adopted in 2005 – “Together we Share and Learn”.  
Right from the time of registration where the participants were segregated into four groups according to the colour of their name tags, the spirit of sharing and learning was felt by each and every one. The groups that were formed came together during the interactive sessions that were conducted during the day.

Each group was led by two participants: one member from the Pune chapter of FOM and one core group volunteer from the Mumbai chapter.
Our group the Orange group was led by our own Pramod Bhai who was teamed up with Ashish from Pune. Pramod, at the outset, put everyone at ease with his inimitable style of sharing his experiences; and immediately bonded with the rest of the team.  

Viji and her team from Mumbai had thought of a very innovative way to bring out the best in each team.  

The first session was an ice-breaker, wherein each group member talked of his journey after diagnosis of CML or GIST. As the sharing took place, the fear and self-doubt soon melted into a feeling of reassurance and confidence. As the session progressed, each and every participant came forward and talked about their experiences.

Each group was then asked to choose some representatives who would speak about their experiences to the audience.  

Three members from each of the groups came forward to address the audience. Each experience was unique in its own way, but there was a common thread that bound all of them together … their relationship with the team that got all of us together. Yes Viji, Ayeshah, Sharon and Vidya –The Max India team.

For most of the participants, this was the first time they had attended a meeting of this kind. Interacting with the doctor and getting their queries answered meant a lot to them. In fact, during the discussion some of them mentioned that in such sessions they got answers to questions that were on their mind but never articulated. Moreover, they were happy that they got an opportunity to interact with other members of the family.

The interactions had many positive outcomes. A really moving experience was shared by Supriya. She shared her feelings following her husband Rahul’s diagnosis (CML) soon after their marriage. What followed was a heartwarming tale of their successful struggle to cope with an unimaginably distressing diagnosis. Seeing Rahul share his experiences and interact with others in the group was an emotional moment for Supriya – it was the first time he showed a willingness to talk about his condition.

A bleary eyed Rahul shared his story of the diagnosis, the feeling of guilt for having put his wife through such difficult times, and the support he got from his wife throughout. For someone who was never willing to talk about his illness, Rahul had come a long way.  

Rahul and Supriya both wanted to be volunteers for FOM. They wanted to share and experience the joy of helping others like them.
Another heartwarming moment was when Priyanka – a bright young girl with a brilliant career in law in the waiting – shared her experience. Her diagnosis was at first surrounded by disbelief, and then she talked about how it slowly moved into acceptance and then confidence to deal with it and live life to the fullest. She admitted to being an extremely shy person, but her speech oozed with confidence and gave hope and joy to everyone in the room.

Taking FOM beyond the cities into rural areas was another important point that came forth in the discussions. One of the participants, Mahesh Kumar, talked of the importance of spreading awareness in the rural areas. He talked of how they had limited access to many kinds of emotional and informational support and how we could contribute in such areas.  
The second part of the volunteer training program was a very interesting exercise.  
The topic was “Why Do We Volunteer”.

The enthusiasm of the groups was really amazing. The desire to change from a passive to an active participant was evident. Each and every team came up with points that ranged from spreading awareness and learning from others experiences, to the sheer joy and happiness one experiences by simply being part of this group.

And this is what the groups actually came up with:

“Why should one volunteer?”

Blue Group
Motivate Others
Awareness in rural areas
Help Max India to spread its message
Return in deed
Share and learn

Yellow Group
To share your experience and spread knowledge
To help someone in trouble
To gain strength to cope with adverse solutions
To meet like minded people
Achieve a sense of self worth
We feel happy inside

Green Group
Solutions to your own problems
Awareness (Knowledge)
Mera Gum Kum (Sharing reduces the sorrow)
Positive way of living
Give what you get
Help Max India to help others
Discover a new family

Orange Group
Spreading awareness
Sharing experience
Support group beyond family
Build a bridge between doctor and other patients
Learning from others
It makes us happy and we receive a lot of love and build positive energy




Each time FOM gets patients together, the total energy levels reach new heights. Our souls are cleansed and we get our batteries recharged.
I thank Viji and her team for giving me this wonderful opportunity to be part of this great movement called Friends of Max. It has really maximized our lives.

Bindu Menon, FOM Mumbai