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International Stuttering Awareness Day: “Stuttering is like an iceberg, you can only see what is above the water”

October 22nd is marked as the International Stuttering Awareness Day around the world. “Stuttering is like an iceberg. Interlocutors only see what is above the water. They hear the repetition of syllabi, words and pauses. However, 80 percent of the problem is what you cannot see and it is below the water. These are fears, traumas, negative thoughts, etc.”, report members of “Moj slobodan govor” Association.

Raising awareness about stuttering and people who stutter is the goal of the Association “Moj slobodan govor”. It is the first and only association for the support to people who stutter in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A Facebook group “Mucanje Balkan” was created first in 2016 consisting of speech therapists, psychologists, experts and 10 members from different cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today, the group has 1,000 followers. “Our mission is to contribute to the quality of life for people who stutter through various activities. Some of the objectives and activities of the association are: providing people who stutter with information and support, informing and educating the public about stuttering, presenting the problem of stuttering in the media, protecting the rights of people who stutter, participating in research related to stuttering, cooperating with faculties, medical institutions and other institutions”, the Association underlines. 

One of the members of the Association is Haris Heljo. 29-year-old Haris has been stuttering since the age of 3. It started with a frightening event from the war in 1994. During his primary school education he did not have any problems because, as he stated, his teacher was a good pedagogue who explained his classmates that stuttering Haris was dealing with, was a completely normal phenomenon. However, problems appeared when Haris started his 5th grade. During that time, certain teachers did not understand his problem and assumed that he used stuttering when he was not prepared for his lesson.  

“Certain teachers told me that I will not be able to enroll to high school and that I will never succeed in life. Those were formative years when nobody needs such comments, let alone someone who stutters”, says Haris.

Haris, a boy who was told he would not enroll in high school nor succeed in life, successfully graduated from the High School of Economy in Bugojno, completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the study program of Visual Arts and Visual Communications Design at the International University of Sarajevo. Moreover, Haris is currently employed as a Creative Content specialist at the University Communications Office of IUS.

Watch BHRT interview with Haris:



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