Andrijana Suton is the chairman of the humanitarian association ”Cvijet” from Čapljina. The association was established in 2009 and it gathers persons with developmental disabilities, their parents and friends of the association. The goal of the association is to include disabled persons in all segments of the society, from education, over health to employment. The association is financed from projects, the budget of Čapljina Municipality, donations and its own assets. Andrijana told me about the work of the association and projects they did so far, as well as about how much the existence and work of the association lead to a change of the mind-set of the society they are active in.

Andrijana Suton:

We have worked with ”In fondacija” Banja Luka for three years. The project was called ”Horticulture Therapy for Children with developmental disabilities – Čapljina Municipality” and Bonus School that provided informal education for children from Čapljina Municipality. The last project we had this year was from the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Policy and it was entitled ”We, cooks”.

Numerous activities, workshops in nature, creative and educational workshops were held within these projects. We also hired speech therapists, special education experts and teaching staff as part of these workshops.

Do you already have an insight into the extent to which everything you do influences persons that you help and the society in which you are active?

Well, over the past years, there has been a visible improvement and there are more and more parents and volunteers that join the association. Earlier it used to be a taboo. We are the first association in Čapljina municipality that gathers children with developmental disabilities. We are well-connected, our association is also a member of the coalition ”Together we are stronger” of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton. This coalition gathers 13 associations of disabled persons and over the past two years we have been implementing the campaign ”Proud of ourselves”. Last year, the goal of the campaign was to ensure adequate orthopaedic aids. This year we are promoting the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and pointing out cases of violation of such rights.

We are also working on the local action plan in the field of disability, which had been made in our canton three years ago and which is now being updated. The purpose of the local action plan is to introduce assistants in teaching and resolve architectural barriers.

Does this mean that the awareness of persons in Čapljina is being raised?

It is being raised, of course. Our association is small. We are here as a support service, as a bridge between persons with disabilities and the government sector or relevant institutions. We provide information to parents about what they are entitled to in terms of education, health, orthopaedic aids. We explain them what they are entitled to or not. We are focused on all disabled persons, open for everyone, although, when it comes to members, most of them are persons with the Down syndrome.