Sports facilities bring color to special children’s lives

KARACHI: Using her feet, visually challenged Anita Sanam, a student of grade-11 at a school for children with special needs in Karachi, is seen kicking, dribbling, and manoeuvring the football like an ace player.

Although she wanted to become a professional footballer, there were no facilities available to pursue her dreams until a year ago, when Turkey’s state-run aid agency, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), set up two separate football and cricket grounds designed for disabled children at her school.

The cricket training pitches and a football stadium inaugurated by President Arif Alvi in October last year are designed for hearing and visually impaired children at Ida Rieu School for Blind and Deaf in Karachi.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sanam said she plays football with her friends and hopes to represent the national team soon.

“Life was so boring before that, especially for students like me who live in the hostel. We had no recreational facility to pass our time before the establishment of the football ground,” she said.

Describing football as her longtime passion, she said that students used to play in the hostel corridors but it was not safe as she got injured a couple of times.

“Life has changed for us. We have too much fun nowadays as we have a proper facility to pursue our dreams,” she said with a grin on her face.

Sami Zain, another visually impaired student of grade-10, who is a big cricket fan, aims to join Pakistan’s blind cricket team.

” We didn’t have proper training facilities (here) before the establishment of the cricket ground,” said Zain, who, previously, together with his classmates would play cricket in the backyard of his school.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, he said the sports facilities have not only provided the hearing and visually impaired students proper training opportunities but also improved their mobility.

TIKA has also set up a music classroom and library at Kiran Foundation Government School 00 a regular educational institution, in Lyari town of Karachi.

Established in July 2020, the music and library facilities have brought a change in the school’s atmosphere, according to students and teachers.

Aisha Shakeel, a grade-9 student, said she knew nothing about music instruments before setting up the music classroom at her school.

“It (music) has brought colour to my life. It releases my stress and depression, and makes me feel relaxed after a hectic day at school,” she told Anadolu Agency.

“Now, I have addicted to my music classes and the instruments.”

She added that the new library is “refreshing,” “clean” and “well-lit,” which has changed the otherwise “boring” library periods.

The old library, according to her, was not “well-equipped” in terms of books collection and sitting arrangements.

TIKA operations in Pakistan

Ibrahim Katirci, TIKA’s Karachi coordinator, said that the Turkish agency has executed 31 relief projects relating to health, education, sports, etcetera over the past three years in the less-developed areas of southern Sindh and southwestern Balochistan provinces.

“During this period, TİKA has touched the lives of more than 3.2 million people,” Katirci told Anadolu Agency.

The projects, he went on to say, have been executed in collaboration with “well-known” governmental and non-governmental partners.

Talking about the area of interest, Katirci said that Ankara gives special importance to vocational and skill-based learning programs across Pakistan.

Citing the decades-long issue of water scarcity in Sindh, he said that with the establishment of 7 RO Water Filtration Plant, TİKA is providing clean drinking water to more than 2 million people a month in Karachi and Hyderabad.

Established in 1992, the agency has been implementing humanitarian and development projects all over the world through its 62 program coordination offices.


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