Championing Inclusion

Gorica's Success through Engaging Opportunity

December 1, 2023


In order to promote inclusive engagement, the Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD2) in cooperation with cities and municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina provided internships for four people with disabilities. Among them is 23-year-old Gorica Manojlović, who was given the opportunity to do an internship in the Municipality of Gacko.

Manojlovic has been trying to find a job since finishing high school, but has never been successful. She says that in the Municipality of Gacko, for the first time, she got the opportunity to feel useful for herself, her household and society as a whole.

"Until now, I haven't had the opportunity to gain work experience. Mostly they were just promises, children with typical development are at an advantage because they can fight for their rights more and have more employment opportunities in various positions," says Manojlović, who has been interning for four months as a clerk in the Youth, Sports, Family and Non-Governmental Service. sector in the Municipality of Gacko.

Since birth, Manojlović has been dealing with difficulties in movement, which she acquired due to a doctor's error. Difficulty walking and weakened functions of the right arm and leg have accompanied her since childhood, which made her life different from that of her peers.

"These problems affect me because I have been deprived of some things in my daily life and work, but I don't worry too much about it," Manojlović points out.

The real life worries for Gorica are within her four-member household where she lives with her mother, sister and brother. They lost their father, which made life harder for them.

"Mother is employed, sister and brother are students, so the internship fee is of great importance for the household budget. In addition to that material part, the importance of my socialization is immeasurable. For this reason, the ReLOaD2 project is extremely important for me and people like me because it gave us the opportunity to gain work experience and contribute to the development of our families and society,"
said Manojlović.

The process of adaptation to the new working environment for Gorica was facilitated by her mentor Željko Popović, senior expert associate for youth, sports, family and non-governmental sector in the Municipality of Gacko. From the first working day, he provided her with the necessary support so that she could fit into the work team and participate in the implementation of work tasks.

Popović points out great satisfaction because the Municipality of Gacko is included in the ReLOaD2 project. With the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the financial support of the European Union, it helps to create new opportunities for young people in this community.

"As the coordinator of the project, immediately after learning about the possibility of engaging people with disabilities, I contacted the mayor and received full support for this engagement. I can express indescribable satisfaction with the procedure of engagement and cooperation with Gorica within my service", said Popović.

He adds that ReLOaD2 was an opportunity for Gorica to achieve internship and affirmation that will lead to her permanent employment in the future.

"The message that we sent to the public in this way is first of all important for Gorica and our local community, and then it is also a great contribution to increasing sensitivity towards all persons with developmental difficulties,"
said Popović.

The municipality of Gacko provided Gorica with all the working conditions adapted to its condition. Her work shift lasts four hours, while during work she has the necessary education, professional supervision, simpler tasks and a positive work environment.

As part of the engagement and cooperation with the mentor, she had the opportunity to attend the meetings of the dialogue platform for young people and the activities that are carried out with CSOs and young people in the municipality of Gacko.

The municipality says that Gorica accepts all responsibilities and obligations with joy, and she points out that she looks forward to every new working day.

"This is my opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and make new acquaintances and friendships. My everyday life has changed significantly, I have an obligation and a reason to leave the house, I met new people, set an example for other people with difficulties to believe in the realization of their dreams. I am happy that new opportunities have opened up for me to improve my own life", said Manojlović.

Aware of the difficult path that people with difficulties in communities across Bosnia and Herzegovina go through in order to get involved in the business world, the 24-year-old girl from Gack hopes that there will be more opportunities in society, like the one she got.