Write: Jasna Drenovac
In the morning before I open my eyes, when reality start to rise, a plan with special needs is being born! For today, this week, in general… Not just the list of daily chores, more like ideas that are leading to something. Maybe just a sketch. Otherwise, if there are no little hooks to hang my days on, numbness takes them in the vortex of nothingness. They are swallowed one by one, those bits of life. Life that evaporates nevertheless.
But there must be some adventures! I am not much of a Petar Pan but why not, with some salt on my tail, I can fly to India, drive my bike to the river, or take the bus to the next city. When there is a will there is a way!
I like to learn and listen from the ones that are fighting. Whose leitmotif is a smile with some dirty humor. The ones who won’t let diagnose become verdict, but with much effort they will make a perspective of it. When from, we need help and support, becomes Here’s a hand – Evo ruka! From a life with special needs grows in inclusive association of parents, so special that everybody likes to hang out here.
The wall that joins
I spent one great day with them, when they were looking for volunteers for making a mud wall, for the greenhouse in Zemun polje.
What do I know about mud walls? Nothing.
I have never been to Zemun polje, either.
Train, google maps and here I am!
In blooming gardens, greenhouses, dirt, wooden planks, shovels and some people. From Skopje, through Niš, Smederevo, Petrovaradin, few of us from Belgrade till Croatia, all here to help.
Shovels, ramrods and here we go! It’s very, very hard, but if I made it, many could. They are well experienced, knowing bout the technique and technology.
Mud is not just mud, it is a well measured mixture of water and soil, for a completely natural way of building. You can learn it, but have to train it too.
From Grandma’s recipes to five-year plan
Ruza is telling me:“We should have found someone to build us a greenhouse, but for the money we had, no one wanted to do it.“
So, Rogan suggested-„Why don’t we do it on our own?“
And that’s how it started..
Now they have a greenhouse where organic vegetables and fruits are being grown. They make jams, juices, other delicacies like ajvar and dryed tomatoes. From the money, they earn, workshops and activities are being financed. They still need the help, of course, it is not possible to solve all the issues. But they can do a lot, so everybody feels much better.
“Mesto susreta” in Zemun polje, like part of „Evo ruke“ is an inclusive center with creative and educational workshops.
There was nothing like it for kids with special needs, so parents had to take them all the way to Belgrade city center or like so.
Besides, the children of this neighborhood had no suitably designed places, programs or workshops of their own. Usually, they were playing on the streets.
Now, they have Open day programs during weekends and day care center in the summer. This is a place helping children as well as their parents and loved ones. But also the right spot for everyone who wants to help, participate, just hang out and spread the good will.
Ana, founder of the association is telling me, during a delicious meal, that they are not the ones who always ask for help. Their goal is not to promote compassion for disability, and wait for help.
Starting seven years ago from the trunk of an old car, now they grow up to an association with a five year plan. The main mission is to be acknowledged as VALID. To say it politely, something like OK. To be given a chance to live a life with dignity, useful and equal. Till then, to educate, inform, prepare everyone around. Until recognized. Life is one!
Something crossed my mind, while writing this. Long time ago, in 1996, probably on a film festival, I watched a movie „The eighth day“. A story about a Georges, a boy with Down syndrome, and his accidental friend, deeply lost in hell of corporate life. What I remember the best is this:
„God created the world in seven days… On the eighth day he created Georges. And then, everything was good.
That’s exactly how I feel. To be complete, we have to learn something about the difference. Not every mold is right or an exception wrong. At the end, I can never find a pattern for the ones like me. What can I do, I have special needs.
When you come across someone a bit different, do not hesitate to say, here’s a hand.
After all, a clover with four leaves is rear but brings luck too!
Photo credits: Evo ruka