Serbia has come along way when it comes to the rights and support of people with disability, but it still has a long way to go. Several years ago I traveled twice to Serbia to see the conditions of people living with disabilities in Dom Veternik mental institution. An institution is no place for a person to live. Many of Eastern Europe’s institutionalized people were born with normal mental capacity, but were challenged with physical disabilities. They found themselves institutionalized anyway.
And then there’s Senka! On my second visit I was surprised to see a small woman with cerebral palsy at an event. I may even have scared her I was so eager to meet her! She is unique. Senka stood out in a society that has a limited population living with disabilities in public.
And what a joy! She had recently become a Christian and was eager to share the truth of Jesus with others. Her smile lit up the room, and there wasn’t a trace of self-pity in her conversation. She is an overcomer.
But it’s not easy living with disabilities in Serbia. The government provides little assistance to people who need it. And while new buildings and transportation may be built to code for access, most buildings are still inaccessible. I watched Senka try to navigate life during my few days in Novi Sad, it was a slow, tedious process. She is determined, but it’s obvious she needs assistance.
I’m passionate about assisting Senka because I can’t decry the institutionalization of people like her, without supporting someone who has beaten the odds, who sets the example to her community every day!
I have set up a GoFund Me campaign to help Senka pay a personal assistant. She needs about $165 a month to pay someone to help her navigate her daily activities such as school, shopping, and social outings. Because assistance is limited for people like Senka she relies on the help of friends and her own creativity.
You can read more about Senka at her GoFund Me page. We love to talk about equality and helping others, and this is a great opportunity to do it! Senka is an example to her community that people with disability can and should be a part of society. Her message of joy and determination in the face of challenges is just what her community needs! I hope you’ll join me in helping Senka overcome her society’s obstacles! Any little bit helps!