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Sarajevo, an event to reflect on the theme of disability

Sarajevo, evento per riflettere sul tema della disabilità
Sarajevo, evento per riflettere sul tema della disabilità

The event “La strada che non scegli” (The road you do not choose), dedicated to the theme of disability, was held at the Europa Hotel in Sarajevo. It was promoted by the Italian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina in collaboration with the association “Bosnian Doctors for Disabled” (BDfD) and the local Dante Alighieri Society. The event was attended by authoritative institutional representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Adnan Delić; the Assistant Minister of the State Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, Kemo Sarač; the Minister of Justice of the Canton of Sarajevo, Darja Softić-Kadenić; and several senior officials of the State Ministry of Civil Affairs, as well as members of Parliament.

In opening the event, Ambassador Marco Di Ruzza recalled the reform process launched by Italy in implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified in 2009. Thus, among the most important aspects of the reform, the revision of the evaluation processes for the assessment of disability, with an emphasis on the principle of reasonable accommodation, and the establishment of the National Guarantor of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were recalled. The forthcoming G7 meeting on “Inclusion and Disability” (Umbria, 14-16 October 2024) was also highlighted, confirming the priority given to the issue by Italy also within the framework of its G7 Presidency.

The proceedings continued with a three-way discussion between Bologna writer Grazia Gironella, BDfD President Amela Velić and Dante Alighieri President Adnan Mehmedović, moderator of the evening. “La strada che non scegli” is in fact the title of a book written by Gironella herself, which tells the touching story of Ajlina, a very young Bosnian girl whose life changes forever after a dive into a swimming pool. It is the story of a woman who has been quadriplegic ever since, against the backdrop of a war that has just ended. It is above all, as the subtitle states, a true story. Behind Ajlina is in fact Velić herself: a thirty-eight years old woman who got a degree from the Faculty of Philosophy in the Bosnian and Herzegovinian capital and speaks perfect Italian and German. Dr. Velić was the real star of the event, which had a twofold objective: on the one hand, the promotion of a great Italian book – “it is important,” said Grazia Gironella, “to tell the story of disability in order to create a more sensitive and fairer society” – and, on the other, to present the BDfD’s activities. Founded by an Austrian doctor – Prof. Martin Salzer, a world expert in the field of orthopedics – the BDfD has in fact been providing assistance to people with severe disabilities throughout BiH since 2013, through financial support, sponsorship, finding personal assistants and targeted lobbying activities.

“As Ajlina’s story shows”, said Di Ruzza, “even when life confronts you with a road you don’t choose, there can still be a road you choose: that of courage, tenacity, fortitude and above all commitment to others. And this is the path that Amela Velić has chosen”.

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