Marko was born with Down Syndrome to a poor family in Croatia. When the war in the former Yugoslavia broke out Marko’s family needed to flee their home. It was a hard decision because they worried that their young disabled child wasn’t going to make the difficult journey. Realizing that there was no other option Marko, his parents and his brother left Croatia for Serbia. They lived in a refugee camp for 8 years and tried their best to get by. Eventually his father found work and they moved from the refugee camp. Marko was enrolled in a school for people with developmental disabilities. When he turned 18 he could no longer attend school so he spent his days at home. Once at home day after day he became depressed and withdrawn.
In 2010 his mother enrolled him in the KEC day center. When he first came he did not speak much and he never smiled. When the KEC staff started planning that year’s holiday presentation they asked Marko to participate in a group dance. All at once something changed in him. His face lit up as they began moving to the music. He carefully listened to the instructions about the choreography and he quickly became the best in the group, dancing with great confidence and joy in front of all his friends. That dance was the beginning of many small steps that led to major changes in Marko’s life.
With the help of KEC he started working at McDonald’s and then in supermarkets. Now he takes public transportation by himself to and from work, the KEC center and where ever else he and his friends and family are going. Having a job, taking public transportation, singing and dancing in front of crowds are some of the small changes in Marko’s life that KEC helped him with. But, these small changes mean the difference between spending everyday at home alone and living independently as active member of society. Today Marko’s days are full with activity and friends and he is always willing to serenade a visitor with a song.
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