Traditionally, ahead of the New Year holidays, “Color Press Group”, led by its CEO Robert Čoban, visited the Shelter for the homeless in Futog, not far from the city of Novi Sad. Before heading to Futog, for the first time we were guests of the primary school “Milan Petrović” in Slana Bara, which hosts the Daily care centre for autism patients.
What leads to autism is still being investigated, and therefore we do not know much about how people suffering from autism actually cope with their everyday life. Each one of their stories is special. We had been led by prejudices that it was hard to work with such patients, but coordinator of the Daily care centre, Daniela Tamaš, assured us that it was a wrong assumption.
By visiting their “creative chaos”, filled with love, harmony, and warmth, we encountered wonderfully organized, and primarily clean, classrooms, where the protégés, over twenty of them, cook, sew, make flower pots and candles, make compost from waste materials, and dance exquisitely well, which the author of this text could see for herself when she was shown dance steps by a protégé when the song from the movie “Beauty and the Beast” played.
The objective of the Daily care centre employees is to provide social inclusion: to integrate the patients into the society, because they form a part of our community, and therefore it is not rare if volunteers spend time with the protégés, taking them to the cinema, to concerts, to birthday parties… The number of people suffering from autism for the last fifty years increased 15 times. There is one girl suffering from autism born after four boys. In this Daily care centre we also encountered a father who had been driving his son from Ada to the Centre for over a decade, thus travelling eighty kilometres every day just in one direction!
As a modest gift, we brought some presents – magazines published by the publisher “Color Press Group”, with support from our industrious home cooks – contestants from a well-known project “MAXI Housewife of the month”, Nađa Dojin, Smilja Telečki and Dijana Miletić, who had prepared sweet and salty “špecije”. After this visit, we moved on to Futog, where the Shelter for the homeless is located.
Protégés of this shelter had already been stamping their feet, waiting impatiently for our arrival. They were looking forward to donuts and croissants intended for them, too. We then danced to the waltz rhythms, played by the violin professor from the Novi Sad’s Art Academy – Florijan Balaž and his orchestra “Limanski bećari”, thus, at least for a moment, bringing joy and smiles to those whose lives had not been so favourable. One of the protégés, Danijela Agbaba, read the poem by Fernando Pessoa, entitled “I Don’t Know How Many Souls I Have”, and her autobiographical poem “This Is Me”, and thus managed to bring tears into the eyes of some of the guests.