Rehabilitation Center Ljubuški: " We do not give up on a single child”

"We are proud of the cooperation of all social protection actors; we will continue and expand the services for children and youth activities initiated in cooperation with UNICEF "

Almir Panjeta for UNICEF
Rehabilitacijski centar Ljubuški: “Ne odustajemo ni od jednog djeteta”
07 June 2019

Little Mia is one year and eight months old and regularly comes to physiotherapy in the Educational and Rehabilitation Center for children, youth and adults with developmental disorders in Ljubuški, where she is with physiotherapist Riana.

"She is pleased with the visits, she has progressed, she came here crawling, and now she is walking!" said her mother Jelena, adding that apart from the speech therapist she also uses the sensory room service:

"We are pleased, and we observe progress every day. She's not going to the kindergarten yet, but we're thinking of enrolling her. " In the meantime, Doris, who is four and a half years old, arrived at the Center for regular speech therapy with the speech therapist Katarina, who, according to her mother Doris, is happy with every visit.

"She keeps asking "When will Thursday come?", and she is really glad to come here where she has an excellent treatment and for a very short time we have noticed great progress in her speech. We are satisfied, and most importantly, she is also happy, " added her mother Katarina.

The Education and Rehabilitation Center for Children, Youth and Adults in Ljubuški was opened in 2017, including through UNICEF’s support. Besides a number of services offered by the Center for its 72 beneficiaries, Marija Kikaš is particularly proud of the workshops that are held every day with a group of young people with disabilities who have finished primary and secondary school and who have the opportunity to socialize, learn, improve motor skills, creatively express themselves and spend quality time.

"We do not want to give up on a single child, and we don’t want for anyone to feel abandoned after going through the education system, because after high school it's not easy to find work or activities, and it is very important that they continue to socialize and remain active community members. Through cooperation with UNICEF, we received support for recruiting associates for workshops that were held twice a week. When the project was over, we realized that it had a huge benefit for children and youth and we decided to continue with the workshops, every day and everyone welcomed this idea with great enthusiasm," said Maria Kikaš. We felt the enthusiasm at the workshop with Marijana Leko when we were greeted by well-disposed Andrej, Katarina, Dalibor, Stipe, Nikolina, Josip, Gogo...

Korisnici Rehabilitacijskog centra u Ljubuskom
Mala Mia ima godinu i osam mjeseci i redovno dolazi na fizioterapiju u Edukacijsko-rehabilitacijski centar za djecu

"I like to take photographs, I plan to get one such camera", Dalibor told us right at the entrance, Josip boasted how he plays the accordion, Andrej said he likes to sing, and Gogo added that they are at the end of the preparations for his birthday, which they will celebrate together in a group with music and songs and an unavoidable barbecue. Katarina showed us the skills of matching the small squares that had once been a problem for her, and now she does that without any problems. Nikolina said that she likes everything they do in the group, and she uses some of the gained skills outside of the Center: "I make creative wedding invitations and I'm doing it well."

"Every morning they prepare breakfast for themselves, and afterwards we have creative workshops and repetition of what we learned. If the weather is nice, we go out for sports activities or they use the services of a physiotherapist. We often go to organized visits, and we have various guests - policemen, firefighters ... Every day, we notice progress, good moods and, through joint work, they are improving numerous skills, " Marijana Leko told us while everyone else in the group continued with the tasks for that day.

Participants of the workshop arrive in the morning with their parents, and after the workshops, they have organized transportation home by the “Duga” Association, which picks them up when returning from Mostar, where they drive their beneficiaries.

"Association "Duga" is initiator of numerous activities in Ljubuški, and from the beginning we have excellent cooperation with them, their premises are part of the Center," director Maria Kikaš explained, emphasizing that the common goal is to support every child and every person who needs support:

"This group has 10 to 15 members, works well and is a positive example. We believe that many more will be encouraged to come and join the activities. The situation is much better than before, but there are still those who are excluded and we all need to work together to get everyone involved in the activities, not to give up on anybody. For everyone, a solution must be found! ".

Nasmijano drustvo u Edukacijsko-rehabilitacijskom centru Ljubuski

The rest of the beneficiaries of the Center mostly come for the individual treatments, or in smaller groups if it’s estimated that group work is needed. Children have individual treatments with defectologists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, and there is also a sensor room where they work with a sensory therapist, as well as a room for water therapy.

"The Center is a public institution on the local budget, the founder is the City of Ljubuški and all services are free of charge. It has a regional character and a few beneficiaries come from other cities. At the moment, there is no need for such centers in these cities, as many residents gravitate towards Mostar", said Marija Kikaš, emphasizing that the services offered in Center were discussed and agreed through the Action Plan for strengthening the social protection and inclusion system for Ljubuški for the period 2018 - 2019 which was adopted by the Municipal Council of Ljubuški in late 2017.

She added that among the positive things left after cooperation with UNICEF are the operational team and the Commission for Social Protection and Inclusion, which, she underlined, work perfectly.

"In the Commission, there are representatives of all institutions working with children - representatives of schools, Center for Mental Health, Center for Social Work, Health Center..., and they are all in continuous contact, they regularly communicate and exchange information. We have already solved several cases through joint interventions and it cannot happen, in any part of the system, that there is a child in need of our support, and us not having this information or not acting according to it. This kind of work is proving effective because simply one can’t do it without others," concluded the director of the Education and Rehabilitation Center for Children, Youth and Adults in Ljubuški.