Association Leptir from Sreberenica visited …IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA

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Fifteen members of the Association of parents of handicapped children Leptir from Sreberenica paid a visit to the Organization …IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA on July 8, 2021. Among them were one of the founders, Zeljka Maric Katanic, members with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. 

The visit of Leptir is part of the project Peacebuilding and Reconciliation through Respect for Dissimilarities which is supported by the Ecumenic Women’s Initiative from Omis (Croatia).

Leptir is a multiethnic organization whose members are Serbs, Bosnian and Croats, the three constitutive nations. It has 276 members and is the only organization of the kind in the Bircanska region that has five municipalities (Srebrenica, Bratunac, Milici, Vlasenica and Sekovici).

Its activities round up children and young persons with various disabilities (physical, sensory, mental, intellectual and combined) from 5 to 35 years. They will change the name and revoke the age limitation because of the growing number of beneficiaries older than 35 years. Furthermore, they will change the word handicapped which was used in the late 1990s and since it is outdated and politically incorrect.

The association is working on empowering parents of children with disabilities, in particular mothers, to whom they provide advisory support in order to better accept their children with disabilities.

The members receive psychosocial support, language therapy help, defectological and physical treatments, support in education and training for independent living and work and numerous creative, sports and work-occupation activities are organized.

The goal for visiting …IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA, which is also supporting persons with disabilities, with an emphasis on the empowerment of women and the protection of their rights, was to familiarize themselves with each other’s activities, projects finished, to exchange good practice, share experience and challenges in working with women and persons with different types of disabilities.

Two of the visitors had a hearing-impaired disability and are communicating by using sign language. Of great importance for women was the presentation of guidelines for the treatment of professionals in situations of reporting violence, especially if they are addressed with the support of a sign language interpreter.

The guidelines refer to giving information in an appropriate form (written, sign language, adjusted speaking or an interpreter), maintaining eye contact with the person talking to, specifically when communicating with a hearing-impaired person. They advise the presence of a sign language interpreter at all stages and the respect for privacy and dignity of a woman. Many elderly women do not use sign language, therefore it is of the essence to ask them for the appropriate way of communication, writing or adjusted speaking.

The brochures Life without Violence is your Right – Recognize and React to Violence in the Family and Partnership, as well as recordings of the translated brochure into sign language intended for women with hearing-impaired disability.

-The visit to …IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA is an immense and positive experience. It’s a tailwind and motivation to fight for the change in conservative surroundings in Srebrenica where people are not well informed, have a high tolerance toward violence, and not enough understanding for people with disabilities – says Zeljka Maric Katanic.

Photo: Maja Tomic

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