Life in a wheelchair was not an obstacle in finding the first employment opportunity for 20-year-old Alen Murtić from Bihać. His long-term perseverance in search for job was acknowledged as part of the Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD2), which helped him to get his engagement in the City Administration of Bihać.
Alen’s difficult life tale begins with his birth. “My spinal cord was damaged during childbirth due to a medical error.” My lower extremities remained non-functional as a result of this impairment, which is why I require a wheelchair for unrestricted movement,” Murtić begins his story.
Despite facing challenges and restricted possibilities in society over the years, the young men from Bihać never lost his determination to succeed. He obtained the job title of road traffic technician after graduating from Bihać’s Traffic and Mixed High School. He began seeking for work immediately after finishing high school in the hopes of supporting himself and his family.
“I’ve always wanted to get a good job, help my parents with their finances, and make my life easier.” Because I have some limits in my life, I began applying for various professions that are in line with my talents. Murtić said, “I sent a lot of emails, contacted employers…”
However, it was not that simple. After a series of unsuccessful job applications, Murtić decided to seek help from the City Administration of the City of Bihać.
Murtić accepted an invitation for engagement as an archive operations officer in the City Administration as part of ReLOaD2, becoming one of the few working individuals in wheelchairs not only in this city, but also in the country. Alen has been in this role part-time for three months, and his contract has been extended for another six months full-time, due to his hard work and involvement.
“Everything occurred so naturally. Everyone in the City Administration welcomed me with open arms and offered me with all the assistance I needed to integrate into the work team. The work environment and everyday responsibilities are quite beneficial to me. “It’s a great feeling to be useful in society in some way,” Murtić stated.
When the Alen began working for the City Administration, he received mentoring. Every day, he was accompanied by his elder coworker Mirsad Zulić, who assisted him in more quickly adjusting to the working environment. However, Zulić claims that Alen quickly mastered the labor requirements associated with case archiving and his position. “There are no words to describe Alen’s commitment to his work.” His adaptability and work adjustment went nicely. “Alen seems like he has been working with us for a hundred years,” remarked Zulić, who built a strong connection with Alen in a short period of time.
He says that persons with disabilities, such as Alen, require ongoing help in order to more readily face the problems that life throws at them on a daily basis. He claims that institutions and businesses must provide a workspace that is adequate for the employment of people in wheelchairs and with other disabilities.
“We must not forget about the inclusion of people with difficulties in a professional sense, because everyone has the right to do all the work, they are able to do,” Zulić pointed out.
Even though his mobility at work is limited due to his wheelchair, and his commute to work is difficult, Alen does not feel any different from his coworkers.
“My working day is very simple and not dissimilar to the daily lives of my colleagues.” I arrive at work alert and responsible. I aim to complete all of my tasks to the best of my ability. “Everything is much easier now that I have a mentor beside me, an older person who is there to help me, correct me if I make a mistake, and guide me on the right path,” Murtić explained.
He also hopes that other cities and municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina will follow the example of Bihać and create new jobs for people with disabilities, and that his story will inspire other people with disabilities not to give up on their dreams.
“For myself, I consider that nothing has been denied to me because when a person is persistent and when he truly wants something, he will achieve it,” said Murtić.
To promote inclusive employment and engagement, the ReLOaD2 program, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and financed by the European Union, in cooperation with local communities in BiH has so far provided internships for over 20 young people throughout BiH, including people with disabilities.