Behind the Proposal: Gifted Hands Network

ideas4action@wharton.upenn.edu Blog, Uncategorized

Gifted Hands Network is the second piece of our “Behind the Proposal” series. It tells the story of team Gifted Hands, from Uganda, second place winner of the 2017 Ideas for Action Competition. Relating the team members’ personal experience with the stigmatization of the blind in the country, this piece is a testament to their incredible tenacity and ingenuity.

Mukose Andrew grew up from a single parented family with a mother who became blind because of an accident. She was a lecturer at one of the Universities in Uganda but after getting blind her contract as a lecturer was terminated with a reason that she could no longer execute her duties because of the blindness. She became jobless and could not sustain the family, many of my brothers and sisters dropped out of school and worst of it is my young sister Viola who lost life because the family could no longer afford the medical bills. It’s not only my mother but over 1.6 million blind people in Uganda go through the same challenges where over 99.5% disabled people are not employed, they are stigmatized, marginalized and looked at as not productive. Because of all that, I developed a drive and passion to break the stereotype that the community has towards the disabled. Lucky enough I got a sponsorship at University where i pursued a bachelor’s degree in Medical and Community Based Rehabilitation, which deals in the medical rehabilitation and social involvement of disabled people in community activities. I was able to realize that the blind have a genius and heightened sense of touch which can enable them to early detect breast cancer once medically trained.

Mukose Andrew
Founder of Gifted Hands Network,
Medical and Special Needs Rehabilitator

With continuous research I also came to know that Uganda is among the most African countries highly affected with breast cancer cases, according to Dr Fred Okuku a medical oncologist at Uganda Cancer Institute Mulago in his report of 2015 on health stipulates it out that over 45,000 women in Uganda have breast cancer and over 4,000 are dying of breast cancer annually. This is because we are having only two mammography units in Uganda and only in the urban centre which is Kampala, it is expensive for most of the women to afford, most women attend to hospitals for breast cancer examinations in their advanced cancer stages where they are ever referred to oversea countries like India where 99% can not afford the transport and treatment costs hence left suffering and dying.
This started the birth of Gifted Hands Network turning the two problems into opportunities and giving solutions for both of them.
Gifted Hands Network aims at reducing breast cancer deaths among women in Uganda and increasing on the employability of the visually impaired women by training visually impaired women to become certified medical tactile examiners to carryout the early detection and prevention of breast cancer among women using their heightened, genius and well trained sense of touch,
The service is of quality and medically certified, cost effective where we the breast cancer examinations are at $10 per client, it’s confidential where bodies of our clients are not exposed to radiations and X-rays.
The uniqueness is that blind women use there blindness as an opportunity to create employment for themselves and also save lives of women from breast cancer deaths using their well trained, genius and well trained sense of touch. Once detected early can easily be cured by treatments carried out from Uganda which include chemotherapy.
In existence for only a year, we have reached to over 50,000 women through sensitization programs and validation of our innovative model and raising awareness about the new model, causes, effects and risks of breast cancer across Uganda. Made over 30 partnerships with organization dealing in breast cancer reduction, disability affairs, Innovation and entrepreneurship, life insurance companies, political authorities and hospitals/clinics which have already given us letters of intent indicating that they are ready to employ our visually impaired women once trained to early detect breast cancer.
We managed to raise over $10,000 through the dinner in the dark event we organized which aimed at fundraising for the blind women to be trained to become medical tactile examiners form Discovering Hands in Germany.

Having been a winner in the Ideas for Action world competitions 2017 organized by World Bank Group and Wharton Business School, It has expanded my network base, my organization has got visibility to vibrant people who can easily support the enterprise to grow big and also received a lot of mentorship and guidance.

The next steps are to scale up the organization to many parts of the world so that many people can benefit from our service.
We therefore seek for your financial support and mentorship to enable us scale up the organization to many countries in the world.

CONTACTS:
Email: giftedhandsnetwork@gmail.com
: mukoseandrew@gmail.com
Tel : +256 704 568 378
Skype: andrewmukose