Children of Čobe and Novi Seher (Maglaj Municipality) have speech therapist

Speech therapist Samra Jusufbašić from Maglaj works with children in the Novi Šeher Primary School and the Čobe Branch School

Speech therapist Samra Jusufbašić from Maglaj works with children in the Novi Šeher Primary School and the Čobe Branch School twice a week. She does reading and speaking exercises with 11 boys and girls in Novi Šeher and 5 girls and boys in Čobe. The rest of the week Samra works in the Healthcare Center in Maglaj where she provides services to 23 other primary school children, as well as instruction and counseling to 7 girls and boys of preschool age.

“I majored in speech therapy and surdology at Tuzla University. I love working with children. At the time when I joined the project I was unemployed but not inexperienced and I welcomed the opportunity to continue helping children in Maglaj and do outreach in Novi Šeher and Čobe“, Samra tells us as we enter a classroom in the Čobe Branch School where a third grader waits for her reading and speaking exercises. They first read the text together and then she summarizes the text and writes down the summary.

Samra was hired in September last year within the project titled ”Delivering speech therapy to children with voice, speech and language disorders“, which is now administered by the Maglaj Municipality upon its official completion in January. Her hard work and dedication have already yielded noticeable results.
    
”Eman was having a hard time pronouncing some letters and we welcomed the news about the speech therapist coming to school to work with him, because otherwise we would have to look for this type of assistance in other towns. There has been some notable progress. Before he could not pronounce the letter R, but now his pronunciation is correct. He attends his speech therapy sessions with enthusiasm and he listens to his speech therapist more than us when it comes to exercises. It is very important for us that he can receive this type of assistance in the school, which makes it easier on him“, says Selma, a mother of the first grader Eman from Čobe. Samra holds classes in a designated classroom in Čobe where she works with children after their regular classes.

“Teachers and the teaching staff in the schools are very accommodating and they readily excuse children from classes, allowing them to attend therapy sessions with me. Children practice speaking, reading and writing with me and they come to classes better prepared, which benefits both them and the teachers in the teaching process“, Samra adds. Besides Eman and his mother Selma, during our visit to Čobe we also met two boys and one girl who were there for their individual sessions with the speech therapist.

”Dječačić čuva ćurke... Telefončić glasno zvoni... U vreći je brašno...”, children read and practice pronunciation of specific letters that they have difficulties pronouncing.  

“The common difficulties that I come across both in Maglaj and in my outreach work are related to pronunciation of certain letters, usually letter 'R'. Some children speak with a lisp, while others have difficulties in reading and writing, but there are no atypical deviations“, Samra explains.

Juso and Delila, second graders in Novi Šeher, are first to come for their appointment with the speech therapist. They practice writing and compose a short story from pictures. The story is about a boy who plays with colored pencils.

”They rarely miss individual sessions. When we do exercises such as this one, two children can work together“, Samra explains. Children boast about the great time they have during these sessions and how much they enjoy drawing and writing. Their parents are equally thrilled, including Juso's father:

”This means a great deal to us. I am glad that Juso has access to these services. It helps him study and learn more efficiently“, Edin from the neighboring village of Domislica tells us.

 Speech exercises

Dalila is accompanied by her father Mirsad:

“We are happy to have a speech therapist available at the school. Dalila has improved her writing and reading significantly, as well as her pronunciation“.

Speech therapist Samra has also informed us that the specifically targeting project provided her with professional equipment, including a digital speech therapy set 'Behringer', speech therapy probes, a vibraphone, etc. At the time of our visit, Kasim, a fifth grader, was doing pronunciation exercises using Behringer.

“I love when we practice with the device. I put on the headphones and I feel like a pilot. What I love the most about our speech therapist is that she corrects me!“, Kasim exclaims and goes back to reading the Little Mermaid with Samra, focusing on pronunciation.

“Kasim was born with a cleft palate. He underwent a surgery and has had pronunciation difficulties from the very beginning. We took him to see speech therapists in Zenica and Sarajevo, but none could work with him on a steady basis“, Kasim's father Sabahudin tells us.

Zijad came to the speech therapy session with his son Salih, a second grader. Zijad’s vision impairment prevented him from attending school in his town. He had to complete his primary and secondary education in Sarajevo.

“I am very glad that nowadays children from this area can attend regular classes and receive this type of support in the school, that there is a speech therapist available. Salih received treatment in Zenica and in December we were told that frequent sessions were no longer necessary, but continued regular exercises were recommended. Regular trips to Zenica for exercises would have been difficult for us to manage “, Zijad adds.

Sara, a second grader, is accompanied by her mother Hanka. Her favorite subject is „My Environment“ and she enjoys spending time with Samra. Her mother Hanka shares Zijad's opinion that having a speech therapist in the school is a great advantage:

“I would not hesitate to pay for the services of a speech therapist if need be. With a baby at home, we can hardly manage regular trips to Zenica. Traveling back and forth costs money. Our daughter has benefited greatly from the continued treatment available to her now“, Hanka informs us. Fadila, whose son Almedin, a third grader, had to stay home with a cold, told us that her son had just begun attending sessions with Samra and shared her optimism with us:

“I support this. We, the parents, are not qualified to do certain exercises with our children. He will benefit from having these services available in the school. There is no parent who is not concerned with their child's future“, Fadila comments.

Speech therapist Samra hopes to continue working with children in Maglaj, Novi Šeher and Čobe and is proud of the progress they have achieved over a relatively short period of time, which only boosts her motivation:

“I have to express my gratitude to the school principal, the teaching staff, and the Healthcare Center in Maglaj for their support and to the parents for their warm welcome and for bringing children to speech therapy sessions. I am especially thankful to the Project Coordinator and the Chairwoman of the Commission for Social Protection and Inclusion, Azra Čakrama, who was instrumental in making these services available even after the completion of the specifically targeting project“, Samra, the speech therapist, elaborates.

Specifically targeting project titled Delivering speech therapy to children with voice, speech and language disorders was implemented between August and December 2015 as a part of the project Support to durable solutions of Revised Annex VII Dayton Peace Agreement Implementation Strategy, financed by the European Union with 7 million Euros from IPA funds, co-financed and coordinated by UNHCR and seven project partners, including UNICEF. The project began in 2014 and will be implemented until the end of 2016 in the municipalities of Bosanski Petrovac, Gradiška, Prijedor, Derventa, Maglaj, Bijeljina, Živinice, Mostar, Foča and Brčko District.