Power of a woman's mind
She is a tiny human being, but a huge personality. She sits on her wheelchair as a beautiful porcelain doll on her throne. She is so fragile that if you grasp her hand it will be broken. Although she is not able to move her body without the help of others, her thoughts are independent and her ideas are the ideas of a lieder.
Until the age of six she was quite an ordinary child. Then the disaster struck. She was diagnosed a sever form of muscular dystrophy. As the second child in the family with three girls, the other two sisters healthy, she was in a specific position regarding her parents and the rest of the outer world. For a very long time she was in bed. Her mother was her support. Mother’s dedication taught Juliana never to surrender. Her father, although a kind and loving man, never adapted or got used to the situation in his family. After his death, her connection with her mother grew stronger. After her sisters left home, she lived alone with her. Suddenly, the only human being she was dependent upon, was diagnosed a heavy form of cancer. Julijana’s mother was terrified by the fact that she will leave her daughter without protection.
Jilijana said :“My mother supported me in the worst period of my life. I decided to make her last days easier.” Her sisters were absent most of the time, tending their families, but she was beside her mother’s bed. Nobody called her to hear how she was. She was under a heavy depression when her mother passed away. She had only two possibilities. To kill herself or to fight for herself. A few month of loneliness were behind her. Julijana raised her head and decided not to give up her fight for
Life. “As far as we think about our disability being a tragedy people will feel pity for us. Until we are ashamed of the fact what we are, our lives will be considered useless. As far as we are invisible, other people will tell us what to do”. She found strength for life in meeting people and making friendships.
The fourth quarter of 1980s was the landmark of her public activity. She was among the founders of the local Dystrophy Association. She has been active in this Association ever since. This Association does not have premises of its own and it is not financed by anybody. The only sources of financial support are their successful Projects. The first project she initiated was the adaptation of the pedestrian crossings. Even today there is no access for the disabled into the post offices, banks, ambulances or the outlets of the local government. There are no means of transportation for them as well.
The Association initiated the idea of educating and hiring Personal Assistants. For the disabled people with a muscular dystrophy history it is
very important to have skilled helpers around them . With this Project they ensured the salaries for the personal assistants in the next three years. But since 2010 they have guaranteed salaries for personal assistants for only seven month per year. This year they will probably stay out of the budget again. Will the disabled people’s journey towards independence end here?
Because of the uncertain future Juliana came to a good idea to initiate the directing of some assets coming from fines onto the account of the Association, which worked for a certain period. The local Dystrophy Association is also active in organizing seminars, conferences, sport contests and excursions. Juliana, as an active member, takes part in appropriate TV programs, radio broadcastings, she writes articles for the local newspapers and informs the other members and the public.
The Serbian society is not mature enough to change and fight the prejudices and stereotypes among its inhabitants. Julijana’s example brings hope to the less valued subjects of this country that changes are possible. She is able to educate the new generations of the disabled, as well as the people around them who care. She is self-conscious and not afraid of the politicians who are arrogant and against her political views. As a public persona she is beloved by the media. She puts on her smartest dress, her designer hat in bright colors and her jewelry, and she talks to the journalists and TV reporters about the rights of the people she represents. Her courage and strength are epic, with her attitude she breaks barriers and boundaries. She calls for the international recognition of the cause she struggles for.
Although Serbia is a transitional country with a lot of problems to be overcome, there are some positive trends in this society. Some of these changes have a direct impact on the socialization, employment, help and benefit of the disabled.
After the finished interview I was looking at this porcelain doll and tried to imagine the difficulties she had to overcome by herself, without help, alone. She is so tiny, but at the same time so strong. In the Serbian language there is a proverb: “Wit rules, strength rolls the logs”. The self-confidence in our lives and in our work is essential for our prosperity. She is the proof of what a woman is capable to do only with the power of her mind. Now, after meeting her, I decided to join the cause she promotes, and which I was not aware of. This engagement is bringing a new dimension to my struggle for the rights of the women in Serbia.
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