About Us

CanUgan was born out of the efforts of kind, caring individuals like you. We’d love to welcome you to our volunteer team!

What we do

In Kasese Uganda and the surrounding district, CanUgan provides locally-made tricycles, white canes, crutches, raised shoes, surgical boots, callipers and other devices to disabled children, youth, women and men In the years since the founding of CanUgan, we have provided devices to more than 1200 recipients whose lives have been transformed:  children have been able to attend school, women are engaged in activities like cross-border trade, tailoring, poultry-raising, selling merchandise and men are engaged in shoe-making and repairing, farming, fishing and other activities. Those who cannot engage in an activity are happy to achieve the freedom of mobility. Above all, recipients have cast aside the stigma of dependency on others and they have gained self-respect and dignity.


CanUgan began informally back in 2010 while our founder, Navin Parekh, was volunteering in Kasese, Uganda. Navin saw firsthand how people living with disabilities were in need of aid and support. When he was approached by Biiara Gatrida, a single mother with a history of polio, he was motivated to take action. Although her mobility was impaired she had acquired skills in basket-making, weaving, tailoring, and handicrafts. She also trained other women with disabilities in making these products. However, independent mobility and transportation was a monumental challenge. With a generous gift from a couple in Ottawa, we found a local workshop in Kasese to build her a tricycle.

This sparked a campaign in which 20 Canadian friends and colleagues contributed between $50 and $200 each. Their gifts led to the construction and distribution of 13 tricycles to people with disabilities. Due to increased mobility, a number of recipients now have access to the market and have begun their own small businesses. Some have engaged in cross-border trade between Uganda and DRC selling charcoal and other household necessities. The impact these vehicles have made to the increased independence, mobility, and economic access shows how even small gifts can make a big difference.

Who are our Partners?


KADUPEDI is a non-political, non-religious umbrella organization of people with disabilities in Kasese. It implements the project locally by overseeing manufacturing and procurement of assistive devices and by distributing the same to people with disabilities (PWDs). KADUPEDI also implements and monitors other initiatives like vocational training and emergency flood relief program.

KADUPEDI was founded in 1996 as a district-wide umbrella organization. As such, KADUPEDI serves grass root persons with disabilities (PWDs) through its affiliated member organizations in sub-counties, parishes and villages and through uni-disability associations like the one for the vision-impaired persons.

A distinguishing feature of KADUPEDI is that the organization is managed and run solely by PWDs, and, except for few staff members working on special projects, everyone works voluntarily.

CanUgan maintains a strong relationship with KADUPEDI, the main implementing organization on ground in Kasese. In addition to our annual visits to Uganda to meet directly with KADUPEDI representatives and persons with disabilities who have received support, KADUPEDI provides us with quarterly progress and expenditure reports with corresponding receipts and documentation.

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In Canada, CanUgan initiated a partnership with Carleton University’s School of Industrial Design in 2012 to create hand pedaled tricycles intended for use by persons with disabilities (PWDs) travelling long distances on rough rural western Uganda terrain. This design, which featured stronger frames that could hold a variety of income generating attachments for the users, involved close consultation with local end users to ensure that the new design was functional in the environment and could be produced locally. One income generating attachment that has been developed is a mini-solar panel which can be used to charge cellphones belonging to customers without easy access to power. In 2018, CanUgan once again collaborated with Carleton University’s School of Industrial Design create a new “two in one” (tricycle/ wheelchair) prototype, enabling PWDs (especially students) to have a mobility device that would function as a tricycle for road travel and as a wheelchair for in-school or building use. This prototype is evolving thanks in part to a Swedish organization Promobilia, which provided funding to both advance the design work as well as increase the capacity of local manufacturers to build them. A close collaboration with Katelemwa Cheshire Home for Rehabilitation Services in Kampala, has developed to advance this work. A goal is to perfect the design, so that it can be open sourced on the web for free. CanUgan’s coordination of Carleton design students connecting with Ugandan metal fabricators and PWDs, is an example of our ability to form creative partnerships to improve the lives of the disabled.


Do we get government funding?

While CanUgan is a registered charity and eligible to receive government funding, our primary source of support comes from our dedicated supporters and the general public.

Why doesn’t CanUgan send wheelchairs or bicycle parts from Canada to Kasese?

There are a few reasons! The big one is our approach; which is about supporting community empowerment and employment. All tricycles are made locally with parts acquired from Ugandan distributors, and other devices are sourced locally as well. Not only does this help stimulate the local economy, making a much more lasting impact, it also means repairing devices is possible.

Kasese is a mountainous region of Uganda, and lack of infrastructure means there are quite a few bumpy dirt roads. The locally-made tricycles are capable of maneuvering the rough terrain and allow for individuals to transport themselves large distances. A wheelchair could never offer the same durability or autonomy, and finding parts to fix them would be difficult.

What do you do with my dollars?

Less than 5% of CanUgan’s donated funds go towards administrative costs essential to ensuring the organization’s ongoing operations. CanUgan is also a 100% volunteer based organization, which means that less than 5% of your donated funds go towards administrative costs essential to ensuring the organization’s ongoing operations.

Your donation is used to purchase, build, and maintain assistive devices. Not only that, but because we purchase and build devices locally in Kasese, we are helping to sustain the local economy and supporting local artisans. Your donation means a gift of mobility to someone living with a disability. This ensures they have the means to rejoin their community, attend school, obtain meaningful work, and support their families.

We’re working together to change lives and communities.

Why Kasese, Uganda?

Of Uganda’s population of 33 million, 16%, or well over 5 million Ugandans are people living with disabilities. Caught in the vicious cycle of poverty and disability, they experience extreme poverty and represent one of the most marginalized groups in the country.

Since independence from Britain in 1962, Uganda has experienced a number of internal conflicts and uprisings, which killed and injured scores of Ugandans. Hundreds of people were rendered homeless and multitudes of children were orphaned. Hidden land mines and thousands of child abductions significantly increased the incidence of disability in Uganda. In addition, the absence of adequate child and maternal care as well as inadequate immunization programs result in large numbers of congenital impairments.

With a population of over 600,000, Kasese is one of the poorest districts in Uganda. Located in the Western Region on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kasese was a focal point of insurgencies and conflicts. Its precarious geographical location and rampant poverty makes the district particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases thereby increasing the numbers of persons with disabilities.

While they are impaired, people with disabilities assert that DISABILITY IS NOT INABILITY. Through access to assistive devices, many Ugandans with disabilities could pursue vocational training and income generating activities positively impacting their daily life.