Montenegro is a country of enchanting nature that inspires peace, reflection and inspiration. It is also a country that aspires to grow the prosperity and quality of life of it’s citizens.
Unfortunately, in this relatively positive state of evolution, many appear to have forgotten about a silent but nevertheless important part of the community that have been largely left to drag behind.
The disabled generally and specifically kids that are too young or too physically and/or mentally affected to be heard are simply not afforded the level of support, dignity, care and respect that should reasonably be expected by a civilised and compassionate community. The disabled are equal citizens and need understanding, compassion and support and where reasonably possible, to also become viable and vibrant contributors to their respective local communities. Exclusion may stem from invisibility in many cases.
In Montenegro, of the total number of inhabitants, 11% ( 68,064 ) persons cannot conduct simple daily activities due to long-term illness, disability or age (according to data from the now outdated 2011 Census). There is still no consolidated data on the number of people with disabilities at the state level. Centralised data and information pertaining to the exact number of disabled persons, type of disabilities and types of Government, NGO’s and/or community support provided are largely not maintained or available in Montenegro.
Almost 60% of persons with disabilities live on or below the poverty line, which indicates that this portion of the population falls into the poorest and most marginalized social groups. In addition to this, there are other numerous factors that negatively discriminate against and affect the overall position of persons with disabilities in Montenegro. Some of the key ones are related to traditional prejudices, stereotypes, conservatism and intolerance, lack of education and the historic low priority given to the disabled by Government and institutions alike.
THE TIVAT MODEL – AN ATTEMPT TO BREAK THE SILENCE
In the year 2000, a small group of parents decided to take matters into their own hands and started to collect information on how many of their local citizens had children with disabilities, the type of disability and how these disabilities affected the lives of the children and their families and as a result, ‘ Evropski dom Tivat ‘ a non-governmental, non-profit organization was born. Their aim to promote European idea, integrations and standards to the citizens of Montenegro, mutual understanding, tolerance and dialogue with other European nations and states is expanded in 2008 on the activities which fully involve children with special needs and disabilities.
Today, in cooperation with the Municipality of Tivat ( which provides a small room for gatherings 2 – 3 times a week ), approximately 20 local families utilise the very humble services and basic facilities of this local NGO to help support their children’s needs.
Whenever time and resources allow, ‘ Evropski dom Tivat ‘ actively conduct workshops, trips and tours, exhibitions and humanitarian fund raiser events as it campaigns to attract the attention of Government, private and corporate donors and supporters in and around their local community but continues to struggle to win the level of understanding, empathy compassion and financial support needed.
THE RECENT STATEHOOD DAY – MADE SPECIAL FOR TIVAT’S DISABLED KIDS AND THEIR FAMILIES
‘ Evropski dom Tivat ‘, the ‘ Riana Group ‘ the ‘ Discover Montenegro ‘ team and the crew of ‘Riana Yacht ‘ all joined forces to make the most recent ‘ Montenegrin Statehood Day ‘ a very special occasion for some of the disabled children of Tivat by hosting a 4-hour bay cruise on the super yacht ‘ Riana ‘.
Riana Captain Ljubisa Bogdanovic and crew sailed the guests to St. Marko island and arranged water activities and transfers by tender to the beach for a swim. After the swim, kids enjoyed sandwiches, juices, and especially tasty apple cake prepared for them by the Riana chef Omar Raafat. Numerous photos and footage taken for the kids and their families will remind them of their Statehood Day experience.
Australian entrepreneur, philanthropist, investor and Riana yacht owner Mr Romy Hawatt stated “ we must emphasise the need for compassion and empathy as we empower and support the youth ( with or without disabilities ) as equals in our community systems. Be it healthcare, education and training or poverty alleviation generally, for a sustainable and healthy community to thrive into the future, everybody must fully enjoy all of their natural rights as they contribute to and benefit from their participation in society. It is not just a day in the calendar, Statehood also means looking at the state of consciousness of the community and it is irrelevant whether we are young or old, rich or poor, advanced or average, disabled or not – we all must act and support as a community equally”
“We had an exceptional day on beautiful yacht Riana, which fascinated our kids and the parents. The complete kindness and cordiality of our host and his crew who had frank and open conversations with each of us whilst making us feel relaxed and welcome on board made the day so memorable. We all finished the day feeling happy and special “ said by Marijana Misic Skanata mother of 18- year old disabled child Sasa.
“We were really very heartened as we watched the happy smiling children and their parents enjoy their Statehood Day out in the bay and we will absolutely continue to support the association going forward. Our aim is to invite and lobby more businesses, organisations, community members and government and non government agencies to join us in supporting future activities for ‘ Evropski dom Tivat ‘ . said Branislav Lazovic, director of Sales of ‘ Discover Montenegro ‘.
We also would like to invite all good people to provide support at even the tiniest level. Even a simple smile or a kind word of acknowledgment and acceptance to the disabled we meet is so powerfully positive in propagating our collective humanity. We will shortly air conditioning to this NGO’s children’s activity room in an attempt to make their gatherings and exercises more pleasant ” said Laura Protat, operations Director and helicopter pilot of ‘ Discover Montenegro ‘.