Everton FC meets disabled children in Tanzania

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Top British premier league football side, Everton FC, visited Uhuru Mchanganyiko School in Dar es Salaam to meet deaf and blind children.

The Everton players – Leighton Baines, Idrissa Gueye and Ademola Lookman – saw how equipment provided by UK aid, including Braille machines, hearing aids and special needs kits, are helping deaf and blind children. They played a game in which they were blindfolded and wore ear plugs to experience what it is like to be deaf-blind; and played Goal Ball, where the football players had to wear a blind and play soccer by listening out for the ball, which has bells inside it.

Speaking on behalf of the Everton players, Leighton Baines said: All of us at Everton think school is important and it’s fantastic to see UK aid helping these kids here in Tanzania. Every child should have the opportunity to learn and have a better future. And football is a great way to learn how to work together as a team.

The school visit was organised by the UK’s Department for Development (DFID) and British deaf- blind NGO, Sense International. DFID is investing £150 million of UK aid in education in Tanzania over the period 2013-2020. Through UK aid, some 545,000 Tanzanian children will go to school, with a specific focus on improving the quality of education for girls and children with disabilities.

It was great to see the children of Uhuru school teach Baines, Gueye and Lookman how to use their equipment. Their ability to thrive at school shows the value of the UK and Tanzanian Governments working together to help provide all children – especially those with special needs – get the education they deserve, said acting Head of DFID Tanzania, Thomas Allan during the visit.

The Country Director of Sense International, Geoffrey Atieli, explained how the organisation, with the support of UK Aid, is working through Tanzanian schools to pilot innovative approaches to inclusive education for children with deafblindness in Tanzania: Children who are deafblind are often amongst the most marginalised, with very few receiving any education, let alone attending school”, Mr Atieli said, “This project aims to change that as we seek to include deafblind children in mainstream schools and provide teachers with the necessary technical support and training to facilitate them.

The Everton players are in Tanzania taking on the winners of the Sport Pesa Cup, a tournament that saw 4 teams from Kenya play 4 from Tanzania for the right to take on the Mighty Blues. The Big Match between Everton and the winners, Kenyan team Gor Mahia, is taking place at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam this Thursday 13 July.

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