Bosnia and Herzegovina: The story of Edna

Source:  Stronger Voice for Children

“Sister, take the girl, she can’t swallow,” the first sentence that the mother of Edna recalls, Sabina Sunjic. Edna has Down syndrome, goes to regular elementary school, practices table tennis, skiing and swimming. She  is collecting medals on her neck. When the family of Edna got a diagnosis instead of an encouragement, the fight started.

“I think medical literature is extremely cruel, because what we have read at that time when diagnosis arrived and how Edna’s condition look today, after 14 years, can not be compared. It was not easy, there was a great shock, we had absolutely no support and we were left to ourselves”, says the mother of this extraordinary  girl.

They quickly decided to provide Edna with all possible support. Beside her parents, a great support to Edna was her older sister Erna. “Erna performs all her obligations with a lot of awareness of the situation she is in. I would even say that it is the pillar of the family, because if she wasn’t the way she is, the results with Edna wouldn’t   be the same”,  Sabina emphasizes.

In the first period, with the help of a logoped, she managed to achieve a lot of progresses. By mutual commitment, Edna got a chance and became a girl who recites  at the first day of the school show. “Within the project Happy Family, in which experts worked with Edna, she showed maximum results, will, desire for work. At the school closest to our home, they told us they did not have a teacher, and I only showed two notebooks in which we were doing the preparations. Still, the prejudice was stronger. We found a school and a teacher at a congress organized by the association Life with Down Syndrome“, she recalls.

“After 14 years, our family is happy. She has a very wide circle of people who love and support her and enjoy her success. And we simply started to live as a family – we’re going to work, no matter what happens. All the time, Edna was our guiding star. Over time, she began to do a part of everything, and she pulled us into even greater efforts. So how not to provide support to the child who wants to do sports activities, to sing and recite! After such results, every investment is a bit “, says the mother.

Edna’s sporting activities today include three sports. First she learned to swim at the sea, and through the project of the Association, Edna began to work with the trainer. Then she entered the pool and participated in competitions at the Oaza Sports Games, where she got a medal. She started skiing on the mountains. „She always fits in, we are lucky to meet people who want to include all of our children in various activities. Her coach never said she could not do it, or that it was too hard. We have solved everything with… Let’s go slowly! and Let’s go, go, go! “, says Sabina. However, Edna mostly likes table tennis. “Table tennis is the best sport in the world. I have friends there, I have many friends and everyone supported me when I won two medals! “, says Edna, in a stolen moment of a training, overcoming the sound of balls around her.

Friends, family and the environment did everything that the system has missed for Edna. And everything that the system has indicated as obstacles towards her normal development and life. The system does not see Edna as an equal citizen of this society that they should be proud of. Edna was one of the children who came across the closed door of a school, but today, she is her school pride.  „Since I am involved in many school activities, I constantly hear: if all of our children were like Edna, everything would be easy “, concludes Edna’s mother.

A child with development disabilities is still just a child. Patience, effort and will are equally needed for all children. The story of Edna proves that once again. How many proofs do we need so exceptions become a rule?