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Residential Communities Empower People with Disabilities to Live Independently


Nov 20, 2023

When we entered the door of one of the 26 residential communities of the Center for Rehabilitation in the Sloboština neighborhood of New Zagreb, Božidar Kobasic (60) eagerly asks us if we can move on to you right away. In addition to him, four other users of the social welfare system live there with different types and degrees of difficulties and disabilities, with the constant support of assistants. This housing model modestly began to be mentioned in Croatia about 20 years ago, when prof. Ph.D. Borka Teodorović from the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation in Zagreb started to ‘push’ the idea of ​​encouraging the inclusion of people with special needs in society and providing accommodation that is of better quality than that in large institutions. The Center for rehabilitation marks ten years since the opening of the first residential community in Zagreb, and a conference will be held in Zagreb on November 22 and 23 where experiences with the project and the possibilities for further improvement and expansion in other parts of Croatia will be discussed. The project is mainly carried out in apartments that are rented. One of the ways to improve it would be additional cooperation with cities and municipalities that may have owned apartments and could designate them for that purpose. Our primary contact at the Center, Božidar, greets us cheerfully when we arrive. He shares his passion for photography and even has a profile on Facebook where he shares his photos that are taken with an excellent eye. We see his hobby in action when he takes photos of his partner while she peels potatoes. They give us a glimpse of their long-standing friendship and then burst into laughter when they joke about getting engaged. Our visit also gives us the opportunity to meet others in the community such as Marko Petrović (30) and his roommates from the community in Travno. Marko also often helps in the kitchen and is the first to jump in when it’s time to throw out the trash. Tin, another member of the community, impresses us with his big heart and lively spirit, and he helps overcome communication barriers with intrinsic gestures. Mrs. Senada shares that everyone in this housing community participates and contributes according to their abilities, and they also try to work on themselves to move on when things don’t go their way. Furthermore, she adds that all those who have parents live regularly and they go to their families, often staying at home for a few days. Such communities are a much better solution for users than accommodation in an institution.

By Editor

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