November 10, 2020

Since our last AGM in February 2019, so much has happened, not only with CanUgan but in the world around us. The Covid-19 pandemic caused the postponement of our 2020 AGM from March to November, when the board decided to temporarily suspend operations for a few months. As a consequence this report will cover the twenty-one month time period from February 2019 to November 2020.

Board of Directors

During these last 21 months, the 10 person Board has been active, meeting on 12 occasions, with the last three times being via Zoom call. I want to thank all board members for their efforts as volunteers in supporting the mission of CanUgan.

KADUPEDI

Our partnership with KADUPEDI (the Kasese District Union of Persons with Disabilities) remains strong. We have a close working relationship with our intermediary team of Bwambale Robert, Baluku Peter, and Kahnya Joseph. With site visits in both 2019 and 2020, Rick Morello and I were so inspired by the warmth, the resiliency, the gratitude, and the tremendous sense of community that we felt from the many persons with disabilities that we met during our respective trips to Kasese. Their hospitality was wonderful. 

This year, our intermediary agreement with KADUPEDI was updated. This agreement spells out in detail all requirements pertaining to the transfer of funds and the distribution of assistive devices. 

Impact of the pandemic

Covid-19 has not spared Kasese, Uganda. While the number of cases in Uganda has been under control, the economic fallout of shutting down the economy has been devastating. Food insecurity in on the rise, particularly for persons with disabilities (PWDs). To make matters worse, Kasese district has experienced floods and mud slides both in the spring of this year and in the last few weeks. In response to the flooding which destroyed a local hospital, the board sent $2,000 to KADUPEDI to assist PWDs (Persons With Disabilities) who were negatively impacted by the flood. This contribution was in lieu of a second quarter allocation to pay for assistive devices. These have been hard times.

Great Canadian Giving Challenges, 2019 and 2020

In June of 2019 we raised $9,285. via the GCGC, our most successful online funding campaign to date. And in 2020 in spite of the pandemic making fundraising a challenge, we raised $6,550 thanks to 55 donors. Special thanks are in order for CanUgan board members who reached out to their networks to support CanUgan. 

Other funds raised in 2019 came from the Rotary Club mums for Thanksgiving campaign in the amount of $499 and memorial donations of $1190. in the name of Pat D’Arcy.

Mbili-Kwa-Moja project. (2-in-1 tricycle)

Our partnership with Carleton University’s School of Industrial Design on the” two in one” or Mbili-Kwa-Moja project has been put on pause. Research funding from the Swedish Foundation Promobilia, to advance a design for a combination tricycle / wheelchair came to an end in August 2020. In my January 2019 site visit to Uganda, I brought updated design drawings, an axle, pictures and a model to Uganda to get feedback on the updated design from end users on the effectiveness of the current prototype. I met with metal fabricators in Kampala (Katelemwa) and in Kasese to get their feedback / ideas / capability / etc on advancing this prototype. All of this work has been well documented. Board member Rick Morello built on this work with his visit in February 2020. 

On the go forward more work is needed to develop the 2-in-1 prototype. More research funds are needed to advance this work. The long term goal is to build a successful prototype and open source the design on the web. It has been a pleasure working with Professor Bjarki Halgrimmson and students from the School of Industrial Design on this project..

Assistive devices 

In 2019, 184 persons with disabilities benefited from the following assistive devices:

On average per year, we provide funds for our intermediary team in Kasese to locally source approximately 150 assistive devices. In 2019 however, this number dropped to 128 assistive devices. One reason for the drop is that in May 2019, the board made the decision to cap the allocation at $2,500 per quarter. Previously we gave approximately $4.300 per quarter. We did this because we need time to develop a sustainable fundraising strategy. We hope this is a temporary arrangement 

Site Visit 2020

Board member Rick Morello made a site visit to Kasese in March 2020. Rick will be speaking to his experience at the November 10 AGM. Blog posts highlighting parts of the trip are on CanUgan.org. As well Rick compiled a detailed report of his trip which will be made available via the website. 

New website and social media

Starting in 2019, the board made a decision to revamp the CanUgan website. We went through a rebranding exercise. After several months we managed to finalize the e-commerce component on the site to generate automatic tax receipts. We encourage members to visit the site for up to date information on CanUgan. Special thanks are in order to Rick Morello for leading this initiative on the Board and to Juhli Lyncaster, past Board President for volunteering to post content to the site. 

 We also upped our game on using social media to support our fundraising efforts. Special thanks to Caroline Marshall for coordinating this effort.

Looking Ahead

Plans for the future include:

This is the story of the mini trike that was created in Kasese in Western Uganda by Kio, pronounced as Chio, a welder. He was producing hand-pedaled tricycles for CanUgan and our Uganda partner KADUPEDI (Kasese District Union of Persons with Disabilities) since early 2010.  Kasese is in the foothills of the Rwenzori mountain range and the terrain is very rough and uneven. Tricycles provided an excellent means to mobility-impaired people in Kasese to travel safely on such terrain.  

Early in 2012, Carleton University’s School of Industrial Design (SID), READ Initiative (Research, Education, Accessibility, Design) and CanUgan collaborated on a project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Bjarki Hallgrimsson from SID, Dean Mellway of READ and I were the key collaborators. 

One of the key components of the project entailed a visit to Kasese by SID students to learn about the design and mechanics of the tricycle from real-life production of tricycles. Accordingly, four SID students were slated to visit Kasese. 

The idea of procuring a mini trike in Canada emerged as these students began producing a prototype. The purpose was for the students to look at a concrete example of the tricycle from which they could learn about its design, features and mechanics before proceeding to Uganda.

KIO – OUR TRICYCLE-MAKER

Kio specialized in making and fixing steel windows, doors, tables and miscellaneous articles, but tricycle-making provided him with a welcome change. Besides, it also provided him with regular business each quarter. 

Kio was slim, about five feet eight inches tall and an active man. When I first met Kio, he was working in Kasese town with his antiquated tools in an open-air location that was susceptible to dust and rain. He used to wear his welding goggles on his forehead, not on his eyes even when he was engaged in welding. And, instead of a ruler, to cut pipes, rods and other material he used his fingers to measure.  

Despite these habits, Kio was a good and honest craftsman. He enjoyed his work and worked from morning till late evening every day of the week. 

MAKING OF THE MINI TRICYCLE

On my subsequent visit to Kasese, I requested Kio to make a smaller version of the tricycle which can be shipped to Canada. Kio was excited and began collecting material for such a tricycle. As he started collecting the material, he was not able to find similar kinds of materials as used for the regular full-size tricycle. For example, the wheel tires were much wider than the regular tricycle. Regardless, Kio proceeded with whatever material was locally available. 

Once he completed the mini trike, we packed it in one piece in a huge box with sufficient padding of newspapers and old rags to ensure its safe journey. I was not too sure whether it would arrive to Ottawa safely. But after about three months the package was delivered. Much to my pleasant surprise, it was in one piece, not broken or dented. Equally surprisingly, I was not charged any customs duty or taxes. 

MINI TRIKE IN CANADA

Faculty members and students at Carleton were excited to see a replica of the regular tricycle. It enhanced their understanding of its features, design and mechanics.  This was important as the students were in the process of building a prototype of the tricycle at Carleton.

In addition to sharing the mini-trike with the School of Industrial Design, we also used it as an exhibit at our annual fall celebrations for our supporters and guests to view and appreciate the product for which they were donating to CanUgan.  

A FINAL WORD

First thing in the morning of 24th of March 2015, I received the very sad news that Kio had died the day before.  At first, I couldn’t believe the news. So, I called our local team leader who confirmed that indeed Kio had suddenly collapsed at work and before he could be taken to the hospital, he had passed away. The cause of his death was inflammation of acute appendix. He died at age 43. He is no more, but the mini trike he had produced with much enthusiasm, energy and love is still intact to remind us of that wonderful man.

By Navin Parekh

I want to thank the 59 donors who contributed to the 2021 Great Canadian Giving Challenge in support of CanUgan Disability Support. Together we raised $10,163 to support the purchase and distribution of assistive devices (white canes, crutches, calipers, wheelchairs etc) for persons with disabilities in Kasese Uganda. This has been our most successful campaign to date.

I also want to thank Robert, Peter and Joseph, our intermediary team on the ground in Kasese Uganda, who work closely with the Kasese and District Union of Persons with Disabilities (KADUPEDI) in identifying recipients for assistive devices. They ensure that men and women, boys and girls, young and old from different villages in Kasese district, directly benefit.

To our donors, I want you to know that your financial support is helping to change lives. Giving the gift of mobility is so precious

Thanks again for your support!

Jack McCarthy

Chair, CanUgan Disability Support

The impact of Covid-19 in Uganda is taking a toll on persons with disabilities (PWDs) in rural west Uganda. There are now over 700 cases of Covid-19 country wide with no recorded deaths reported according to the Ugandan Ministry of Health. According to our sources on the ground, these numbers are unlikely to be accurate due to limited testing and reporting ability. The impact of social isolation, particularly on PWDs, is making it very hard for them to work and receive income. The threat of hunger is real, especially with most supply chains in the region being affected.

Bwambale Robert, a member of the CanUgan intermediary team in Kasese, has stated that fears have increased for persons with disabilities because they cannot move by themselves and are finding it hard to hire a person to move them due to social distancing rules. He also added that some PWDs who had businesses to help them survive such as shoe repairing, tailoring, and photocopying services were stopped from operating. Now these people are at home stranded. Lack of food items in homes has also affected PWDs. They eat only one meal a day and this has lowered their immunity.

This global pandemic reminds us that we are all a part of a global family. At CanUgan we want to cushion the hardship caused by the pandemic on persons with disabilities; a vulnerable population managing more than their share of personal challenges. The need for donations is particularly high right now, and meeting the most basic of needs for people living with disabilities in Kasese is an ongoing challenge. Please consider making a donation today and helping CanUgan support those in need.

The RAP-CD school was founded in 2007 by parents of children with disabilities in order to provide accommodation and an education to disabled children who are unable to attend regular school. CanUgan provides a variety of assistive devices to the school children; however, administrators and teachers have identified the following as additional pressing needs:

Please consider a donation to CanUgan to aid this worthy cause.

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Friday’s metal fabrication workshop in Kasese is CanUgan’s go to builder of hand pedalled tricycles for disabled persons. These tricycles provide persons with disabilities with much needed mobility and the opportunity to return to work and school. The latest tricycles are the product of a partnership between CanUgan and the School of Industrial Design at Carleton University that provided for the re-design of the tricycles with stronger frames that were more resilient to rough terrains. The tricycles have also been modified to hold a variety of income-generating attachments, such as solar-powered charging stations and maize mills.  The modifications have allowed recipients the means to provide needed income to support themselves and their families.

Bwera  is a border town with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and one of the busier border crossings in Uganda. This has afforded capable persons with disabilities (PWDs) a unique opportunity to engage in cross border transport of goods with the aid of CanUgan provisioned tricycles. The tricycles are modified locally to increase their carrying capacity (see photo below). Approximately 30 tricycles have been received in the Bwera district and most are used to transport goods back and forth over the border.  A recent meeting of this transport group’s representatives with DRC officials has resulted in successful negotiations for the issuance of a border card that would allow PWDs to conduct cross border crossings with minimal interference. The tricycles have not only provided a means for generating income but have also improved community respect for these hardworking and enterprising PWDs.

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There is a large demand not only for the modified enterprise tricycle, but also for the basic transport device. Your contribution can help purchase one of these life transforming tricycles.

CauUgan’s main focus has been the provision of assistive devices for persons with disabilities (PWD). There is also a need for vocational training, financial support for PWD small businesses that includes micro-loans, help with the provision of tools, equipment and raw materials, and support for PWD farmers through the provisioning of livestock and seed.

Rachel is typical of entrepreneurial CanUgan recipients who not only is an active  Kadupedi board member but also the operator of an outdoor weaving operation. She has 2 manual weaving machines and she trains other disabled persons in the use of the machines. She specializes in school outfits with logos and lettering. Rachel currently can’t afford the rent for an indoor shop and could use help to purchase more weaving machines to train others and generate enough income to rent an indoor shop..

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The Rwenzori Landmine Survivors were formed on the initiative of victims of landmines. Milton (chair) and Ahab (coordinator) pictured below with banana fibre which is sold as a raw material to make rope and furniture. The group was formed to address the needs of mainly civilian rural victims of landmines deployed during various internal Ugandan conflicts. Their mandate is to provide skills training in tailoring, carpentry, shoe repair etc. CanUgan provides their clients with assistive devices however they have a need for additional carpentry tools (bench saw) and a machine to process the banana fibre so that they can make and sell value added furniture products.

he Two-in-One is a hand operated tricycle that can be converted into a wheelchair by the end user. This project is the result of an ongoing collaboration between CanUgan Disability Support, the School of Industrial Design at Carleton University and the Promobilia Foundation who provided funding. More importantly it involved a participatory design process with project partners in Uganda including CanUgan’s partner, the Kasese District Union for People with Disability (KADUPEDI) and the Katalemwa Cheshire Homes rehabilitation hospital in Kampala.

This collaborative methodology involved the design and development of 4 prototypes and engaged stakeholders throughout the project in such a way that the end result is the outcome of designing with, rather than for end users. By giving the end users a voice, the Two-in-One is more respectful of issues and problems faced by persons with disabilities. 

In addition, by working in partnership with local manufacturers such as CanUgan’s partner, Fridays metal fabrication workshop and the Katelemwa rehab workshop, the Two-in-One project has developed a product that can be economically produced and repaired in rural locales using readily available materials and tools and providing business for the local economy. 

The primary advantage of the Two-in-One is to allow persons with disabilities to travel long distances as a tricycle and then convert it to a wheelchair once they reach their destination. This is important for people who go to work and especially for children who go to school who also need a wheelchair for indoor mobility. Also, in addition to lower costs due to local materials and labour, the overall cost is lower than having to buy a wheelchair plus a tricycle. 

Although CanUgan’s main focus is the provisioning of assistive devices to persons with disabilities, the Two-in-One distinguishes CanUgan as an organization that through its involvement with a local university, international funding agencies and Ugandan recipients, it has developed a unique product  

Please consider a donation to continue this kind of collaborative work or to fund the purchase of one of these innovative devices. 

On behalf of the Board of Directors of CanUgan Disability Support, I want to thank you very much for your financial contribution to our June crowd fundraising campaign through the Great Canadian Giving Challenge. 

We raised $9,285! Our most successful campaign to date!

These funds will go a long way to help us secure needed assistive devices for persons with disabilities in rural west Uganda (Kasese district). Giving the gift of mobility makes such an incredible difference in the lives of people struggling to be active members in their communities.

Having met many of them directly during my visit earlier this year, I know how appreciative and thankful they are for your support. 

Over the course of the year we will share with you news from CanUgan, so that you can continue to see firsthand the impact our organization is having in Uganda. In the next few months we will launch a new website that will share the moving and inspiring stories of the people with disabilities we serve. 

So thanks again for your financial support. Your kindness is so very much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Jack McCarthy
President
CanUgan Disability Support

CanUgan Disability Support will hold its third annual Evening of Celebration on Nov. 7. CanUgan is an Ottawa-based charity that provides assistive devices to people with disabilities in Kasese District of Western Uganda. A group of volunteers meets every month at the McNabb Community Centre to plan and carry out activities to support those much less fortunate than us.

Basigirenda Teddy is one such person. She is 41 years old and lives in Kiburara village in the Kisinga sub county of Kasese District. Teddy is a single mother of three children in the local primary school.  At age six, she was struck by polio, which severely impaired her mobility. For years, she walked around with a stick. Her movements were extremely stressful and slow.  Looking after her children was a huge challenge. Yet, she learned sewing skills, thanks to friends who arranged for her to attend a rehab centre.

Three years ago, CanUgan’s local partner organization gave her a caliper (brace) to help her with mobility. The caliper has had a dramatic impact on Teddy. In addition to ease of movement, she was able to plant ground nuts (peanuts) and cotton. She sold the produce and bought a sewing machine with the money she made. And she started a small tailoring shop to earn an income.

In Teddy’s own words, “I can now buy food and clothes for my children. I thank CanUgan for buying a caliper for me. I am now independent and I am not a burden to family members. At least now they are coming to me to help them. I am very proud. Canada has saved my life.”

There are many other instances of how recipients of assistive devices funded by CanUgan have become independent by starting their own income-generating activities. Examples include cross-border trade, selling charcoal, trading in coffee beans, poultry-raising, candle-making, engaging in masonry, opening a carpentry showroom and acquiring new skills. Above all, these devices have helped them regain their dignity and self respect.