Interview with Dusica Sretenovic
4 April 2022
“Living History Project” interview with Dusica Sretenovic, President of Association of People with Disabilities "Srna"
We would like to thank you for your time and for agreeing to do this interview for the second edition of our newsletter as a part of our "Living History Project". Can you tell us something about yourself?
First of all, it is a great honor that you have chosen to interview me for your newsletter. I was born in Raska, where I still live and work as a geography teacher and librarian at the "Kraljica Jelena" Gymnasium and High School. I am also active in the civil sector.
You are a president of an Association of People with Disabilities. Can you tell us more about that?
In 2013, a group of people with disabilities and I founded a non-governmental and non-profit association of people with disabilities "Srna", which deals with improving lives of people with disabilities in the municipality of Raska. The Association brings together people with all types of disabilities and people whose work contributes to achieving goals of the Association (integration, socialization and inclusion, raising Raska citizens' awareness of disability issues, and advocating for rights of people with disabilities). The association currently has 42 members, 22 of whom are women. Activities are most often aimed at improving human rights of women and youth with disabilities. So far, eight projects have been implemented.
What do you like most about your work?
We live in a small community where there is still a lot of prejudice and discrimination against this particular group. My friends from the association and I are trying to break down restrictions that exist in order to become equal members of the local community. Besides actual support in exercising rights of people with disabilities, the Association also encourages socialization of this population category. It is of great importance that people with disabilities take a more active role in society and become initiators of positive change. We have changed many things in our town and have drawn attention to our problems, which I am very proud of. One of our projects is purchase of a gynecological examination table for the Raska Health Center, to which your company contributed significantly.
Is Raska a mining town in your opinion?
Not at the moment, but it has potential to become one. As a geography professor, I think that based on the geological structure of the terrain there are deposits of lead-zinc ore as well as other precious metals.
Did anyone from your family or acquaintances work in a mine?
In the past, my relatives and neighbors worked in Suva Ruda mine on Kopaonik and Rudnica, where ore was processed. Cable cars that transported ore from Kopaonik to Rudnica are a part of my earliest childhood memories as they passed over my house in the village.
When you look at life in Raska then and now, can you make a comparison?
Raska used to be a town full of people and trees. I remember the lively atmosphere around 2 pm when large groups of people returned from work in numerous factories. It's not the same anymore. The town is now paved with concrete. There are several factories, but people now mostly gravitate towards Kopaonik for work. Young people go to bigger cities for higher education, and they rarely come back to Raska to look for work. The population is predominantly elderly. I am saddened when I look at posters of high school graduates in schools I work in, because most of them now live in bigger cities or abroad.
Are you familiar with work of Adriatic Metals Serbia?
As I mentioned, your company was one of the donors for purchase of a gynecological examination table for the Raska Health Center. I also attended the Info Center opening, where I had the opportunity to meet your directors. You were wonderful hosts.
We would like your company to visit the Gymnasium in Raska and, as a part of "Visit to an Occupation" program, give a lecture about the work you do.
We have also sent you a request, related to the elective program "Education for Sustainable Development" at the Gymnasium, to visit your Info Center with students. The purpose of the visit would be to get acquainted with the work of the Info Center, your company's policy related to sustainable development in terms of natural resources, and activities undertaken that contribute to improving the quality of life in a negative environment.
Do you think that Raska would flourish again if a mine is opened in the future?
I think it would because that would reduce unemployment. My opinion is that your company should cooperate with "Kraljica Jelena" High School in order to form courses about your field of work and for dual education to come to life.
How do you see yourself and town of Raska in the future?
First of all, I try to reduce worries and stress in my life. I would like this uncertainty and fear spread by world politics to stop. I want peace and freedom to be able to travel to, visit and explore new places. As far as the civil sector is concerned, I would like to open a day care center with numerous facilities where people with disabilities of different ages could spend quality time. Mothers of people with disabilities would thus be relieved and they could work.
Do you have a message for young people who are just starting to build their careers?
I hope they will be fortunate to do what they love, as that is the greatest happiness and satisfaction.
Thank you for the time you dedicated to do this interview. We hope that our cooperation will continue and keep improving!