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How Vasilka helped EASPD understand social services in the Balkans

Vasilka Dimoska talks about EASPD's presence in the Balkans.

This week we shine the light on EASPD Board Member, Vasilka Dimoska De Jong who comes from North Macedonia and has been part of the Board for a long time. She represents Poraka, an organisation for people with intellectual disabilities in the Republic of North Macedonia. She talks about EASPD’s presence in the Balkans, what it takes to be a good Board Member and some of her noteworthy achievements.

What motivated you to join the EASPD Board?

Vasilka: I will have to take you back to 2008 ­— that’s when I became an EASPD Board Member. My organisation, Poraka, has a long-standing history in social reform in service provision for people with intellectual disabilities in North Macedonia.

Quite frankly, I was impressed with the work and structure of EASPD. The strong policy influence at the European level was crucial for Poraka’s growth as a disability organisation. We also got this amazing opportunity to connect with other service providers for people with disabilities to share and learn positive practices in the field. As well as bring the challenges and obstacles faced by disability services in the Balkans.

So, when the occasion arose to become a Board member, it was an easy decision for me to stand for elections — and it paid off!


What are some noteworthy achievements you can think of during your tenure as EASPD Board member?

Vasilka: The 2010 EASPD International Conference in Skopje, North Macedonia. It attracted multiple EU officials from the European Commission, Council of Europe, and the United Nations. The conference became a gateway for social services for people with disabilities in the Balkans to be recognised internationally. This international attention towards us was pivotal in the growth of service provision in North Macedonia. Since then, EASPD’s mission of providing high quality services to persons disabilities has been growing in the Balkans.

A second massive achievement was the creation of the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Member Forum at EASPD. ECI did not even exist as a topic around the time I joined. It was just a small working group at EASPD that was initiated in the early 2000s. Currently, I co-chair this working group that evolved into a member forum. Recently, we had a successful conference in Albania on Family-centred ECI in 2023. The fact that ECI became a topic on the agenda reflects the scope and impact EASPD has at the European level.


Can you mention some qualities a Board Member should have?

Vasilka: Having knowledge of the sector is extremely important, especially understanding the new rules of service provision in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).

I also believe experience is the best teacher. So, having collaborated with EU institutions and the NGO sector at a European level is a plus point if you want to join the EASPD Board. You become a stronger candidate for the position if you are seen as an active and reliable leader recognised nationally and regionally.

Lastly, the human values of trust and respect are crucial. We come from diverse backgrounds, with each country experiencing different realities. It is important to respect this and have an open mind.  

Three Vice-President positions, along with 15 other governance roles, will be open for election on 19 October 2024. Eligible candidates have until August 31 to submit their applications for a Board position. For more information about the application process, please visit the EASPD website here.