Social inclusion– the key to better quality of life in BiH
How Integrated Local Development Project (ILDP) assists in the social inclusion of people with disabilities and the elderly in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
What we own and what we've achieved in life do not determine what kind of people we are – it is also about how we are ready for helping those in need. Assisting partner municipalities and towns in generating local development for the benefit of all their citizens is one of the key goals of the Integrated Local Development Project (ILDP), a joint project of the Swiss Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Courtesy of the ILDP incentives, the support was provided for the projects with substantial human development effects, which have borne positive impacts on reducing poverty and social inclusion of vulnerable groups. These include the establishment of the Velešići Healthy Ageing Centre in Sarajevo and the Day Centre for Persons with Special Needs in Prijedor.
Support to healthy active aging
ILDP supported social inclusion through the establishment of a healthy ageing network in Novo Sarajevo municipality, including the reconstruction and opening of the Velešići Healthy Ageing Centre. The goal of this project is the creation of the network to improve the quality of lives for the senior citizens. The centre has 60 members who regularly use the services and the contents offered by the centre. The centre offers to the elderly population, one of the most socially vulnerable population groups in the country, the opportunities for daily socializing, engagement in different creative and cultural activities, and acquisition of the knowledge about the meanings of active and healthy living.
“I would recommend to everyone to join the Centre, to compensate for what they haven't had since you can find everything you need right here,” said Ms. Merima Murtić, a member of the Velešići Healthy Ageing Centre in Novo Sarajevo.
“I couldn't wait for this Centre to open in Velešići since it's close to home. I come to the Centre, I talk to people and read papers,” said Mr. Amir Avdić, a member of the Velešići Healthy Ageing Centre in Novo Sarajevo.
During the process of implementation of this project, the elderlies have been involving as volunteers and managers for particular activities to establish a network for healthy aging and other relevant activities in the centre, which benefit the participants with the sense of accomplishment and rewarding. Also, the centre supports the families of elderly persons who are the users of the centre.
„It is important that members themselves to indicate what they want to have at the Centre. They like to volunteer and to contribute, since they are still capable of providing a contribution to the community,” said Ms. Minela Ferić, coordinator of Velešići Healthy Ageing Centre in Novo Sarajevo.
“I’m trying to make their days better and to help them, even sometimes it’s just to sit and chat together with them, or to make them a cup of coffee or tea,” said Ms. Amela Lojo, volunteer at the Velešići Healthy Ageing Centre in Novo Sarajevo.
Social inclusion of persons with special needs
Implementing the Day Care Centre for Persons with Special Needs project brought improved and qualified supports for the persons with special needs in the town of Prijedor. The Centre contributes to improving the quality of life for them and their families as well. The capacity of the Centre has been increased, and now it can accommodate 10 more beneficiaries. The project enabled to provide a full support and to raise the quality of life of people with special needs and their families. One of the major accomplishments of the project is being able to create the new possibilities of employment to the people with special needs, which will ease their integration to society. The capacity of the centre has been increased with the larger number of the users and the services than before. Earlier, the users were dependent of good wills to rent the space which would function as Daily center. However, the construction of 90m2 of the new space with furniture and equipment for the people with special needs, brought the significant changes of the capacities of the centre. With this, conditions have been created for the increment of users by 30 per cent. This is a remarkable improvement to the people with special needs from the area of Prijedor city which has 500 of them. Besides this, new services and content - two workshops for skill development in sewing and cooking and a program of bobath therapy for neurological rehabilitation - have been created at the Daily centre. These are expected to bring the increased number of service users at the centre as well.
„This is something truly useful, particularly when the town cannot allocate its funds for everything. With such cooperation, and this programme as a part of strategy, we were able to complete this project successfully,” said Mr. Milenko Đaković, Mayor of Prijedor.
“We are simply trying to eradicate the prejudice towards this group. Whoever comes here and spends at least a day with us will realize that we are not the people you should run away from, but rather extend a hand to, or give an opportunity, because we can and want to work, and we do work a lot, and with lots of love,” said Ms. Vesna Berić, president of Association for Persons with Special Needs “Neven” in Prijedor.
Ms. Dušanka Vranješ, described why this Centre is important for the children with special needs in Prijedor from the perspective of her as a parent: “Their days are filled with work, and they see their own contribution. They don't want to gain anything, and they need very little. They need this space and time spent together.”
Ms. Sedmira Musić, a beneficiary of the Day Care Centre for people with special needs, shared her experiences from the Centre: “I've been coming here since my parents died. When I came here I felt good, I found new friends that I'm proud of. I thank these ‘aunts’ for their care. They are like my mother.”
These social inclusion projects illustratively show that the efforts on social inclusion are one of the keys to a better quality of life in BiH, especially for those who are on the margin of society, and who needs support which they have now at the day centres in Novo Sarajevo and Prijedor. These projects of social inclusion through the scheme of ILDP are good examples of joint effort in helping people who are in need, and an opportunity to show how they can contribute to the society as well.