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.