Editor's Note: This is my first post about the humanitarian work that Dionne and I doing here in the Balkans. Hopefully it gives you an appreciation of what we are doing here in this beautiful part of the world.
The Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-Day Saints provides humanitarian aid across the world. Funding for this aid comes directly from member donations. The donation forms have a line item for "humanitarian aid." These monies go directly to the humanitarian budget which are then managed and distributed by local church leaders and volunteer missionaries like myself. There is not a large endowment which makes up the bulk of this fund. Rather, local members across the world make small donations ($5, $10, or $100) entrusting that this money will be used wisely for those in need. Dionne and I are stewards of these funds and we take the responsibility to use these funds "wisely" quite seriously.
|This is a tithing form. Note the line item for "Humanitarian aid." I am ashamed to admit that I have never donated to this line item. In fact, I don't think I ever really noticed it before.|
Although our projects have to receive approval from our superiors, Dionne and I have considerable freedom with regards to the types of projects that we propose. Our charter is to look for the "poor and needy." We have also been counseled to be deep and focused vis-a-vis wide and shallow.
So after much prayer and evaluation of the situation within our countries, Dionne and I have decided to target our efforts towards helping people with disabilities.
|A primary school classroom at Los Rosales, a partner in Mostar which serves 137 students ranging from ages 3 - 53.|
|My sister, Marni, just did a wonderful photo shoot with Brooklyn.|
If you've got a tiny little dream, all you have to do is think about it, work on it every day, and you'll get it. - Sebastian
Mala Sirena ("Little Mermaid") exists because of a motivated mother; Adisa Beganovič-Mahovac. Her son was born with disabilities and she was frustrated because he was facing the prospect of exclusion from a normal life; especially in rural Bosnia. So she did something about it. She started Mala Sirena, an organization that is promoting "inclusion" of those with disabilities. They run a kindergarten, fund personal assistants for children to attend school, run therapy programs, and continue to expand.
|Adisa (on the right) in their "sensory integration" room.|
|Professor demonstrating "eye movement" technology. You can just look at the image and it will select it.|
My understanding is that only 3 individuals in Bosnia are using the special technology for communication. I have that many using the technology in my family! And only 26 are currently using it in Croatia. The need is there. The therapists and parents are there ready to teach with the technology. The problem is language and cost. The western price tag puts this technology out of reach for both institutions and individuals here.
|I need these buttons next time we play "Family Feud"|
|Dionne and Adisa with a young student.|
We will let you know how it goes. Cheers.