Equipping People With Canes—Providing Independence Around the World 

individual approaching stairs with a white cane

Imagine trying to cross the street as a person who is blind without a cane! Think of the places you have recently traveled. Maybe you went to school, work, church, or visited family or friends. None of these examples of independent travel would be possible for most of us who are blind or low vision without a basic tool of autonomy — the white cane.  

You Cane Give Project 

The You Cane Give initiative started in 2015. When selling customized canes through Kustom Cane, I realized many people had extra canes in closets, under beds, and attics. Additionally, people were throwing away broken canes. Through research, I learned of the shortage of white canes in areas of the world with the largest population of individuals who are blind or low vision.  

While in Kenya, collaborating with the African Union of the Blind, I discovered a “white cane famine.” Not only are people who are blind or low vision without this basic tool of independence, but the inability to acquire canes is costing lives. Drivers do not identify people as blind because they are not carrying a white cane. Stories of individuals getting injured, or worse, killed, are unfortunately common.  

Taking Action 

My wife, Wendy, and I saw a cycle pattern that needed to be broken. Some individuals who are blind or have low vision do not have the basic tools or training, so they do not travel independently. They stay home and are sometimes disowned by their family or tribe as a financial burden. They are often considered cursed and left to beg on the streets. Are these observations accurate? Do they depict the abilities of individuals who are blind or low vision? Far from it! 

Professionals need the appropriate tools and training to do their job. The same is true for individuals who are blind or low vision. All we need is the tools and the training to use those tools. Then, there is no stopping us!  

Wendy and I wanted to break the cycle by equipping and training people with the basic tool and representation of independence — a white cane. The cycle will be broken if the community sees people using a cane — traveling independently, attending school, church, and contributing to society! 


You Cane Give (YCG) continues expanding with international partners. We disburse canes and other tools and send teams providing services including:  

  • canes,  
  • mobility training,  
  • white cane first aid kits for restoration and  
  • now solar-powered talking audio players that include the Bible, stories, and a mobility training guide.  

Mental health services and peer mentoring are also incorporated. YCG has served over 31 countries in the past eight years with over 2,066 canes and 451 solar-powered talking audio players. Most of the canes distributed are donated by other people who are blind or low vision.  

Stories: Inspiring Independence 

The parents of an 11-year-old girl from Ecuador never allowed their daughter to travel outside the home because she never owned a cane. The parents actually carried the daughter when leaving home. Now, she has experienced a whole new world outside her house and surroundings because she uses a cane. 

Moses, a wartime veteran from Kenya, lost his sight during a battle; his family disowned him. A new white cane and mobility training intervention changed his life. Today, Moses is a regular analyst on Citizen TV and advocates for the population with disabilities and veterans while pushing for representation in his country’s government. Recently, he was honored to begin serving as an advisor for a high official within the Kenyan government! He also has a band that has become popular in his region. Look at all the things that have given him meaning and purpose.  

Consider the recent story of Elsa, who took a bundle of canes to Ethiopia, her homeland. The children in a school for the blind received their first canes. The children commented for the first time that they felt safe enough to leave the wall of their school’s compound and explore the city around them. 

Additional Stories 

We have seen children and adults who have never owned a cane. Some have used makeshift sticks. In Kenya, when visiting Nakuru, Kenya, Karen Nelson, a mobility instructor from Tennessee, heard several clanking sounds as a group approached a school. The folks from a neighboring tribe had found old iron water line piping and cut them to use as canes. One older lady’s pipe had a rounded curved section where the pipe had been bent for its original use to supply water. Upon receiving their very own cane, these people broke out in song and thanks. Yes, their very own canes! It is common in South Africa for a home or center for the blind to have several students but only one cane to share.  

One story came from Mexico where a partner, Billy, gave a cane to an older man in a Mexican village. A year later, Billy ran into the older man again. The straight cane, which originally went up to his collarbone, was now worn down to just below his waist! Needless to say, Billy gave the man a new cane appropriate for his size! 


These are just a few stories we have heard or personally seen. There is a shortage of canes and also mobility instructors. Some governments do not want to invest in manufacturing canes or providing mobility services to people who are blind or low vision. If we can break that cycle of stigmas, maybe it will change one day.  

In the spring of 2023, YCG sent a team to the Athlone school for the blind in Cape Town, South Africa, where the suite of services was instituted. All 305 students received a cane, a large number received mobility training, and all received the solar-powered players that contained the Bible in their native tongue or English, stories, and the mobility training guide. A follow-up trip occurred in October, including three certified O&M specialists and a special education teacher working with the students, parents, and teachers to provide follow-up training and support the single mobility instructor assigned to the school!  


In eight years, we have accomplished a lot. YCG has established a strong board consisting of certified mobility instructors, ophthalmologists, special education teachers, financial advisors, accessibility advisors, and a couple who recently founded a training center in their state. Partnerships have been made with organizations such as the World Blind Union, the African Union of the Blind, and Ambuetech,  to name a few. But there is so much work yet to be done. We need more canes and donations to tackle the “white cane famine.”  

Not only does a cane equip people who are blind or low vision,  but it also saves lives. Become part of the movement. Stay informed of our progress. Reach out if you want to get involved. Our website is www.YouCaneGive.org. People of different backgrounds, cultures, philosophies, and organizations have unitedly supported this initiative. 

 We want to thank all who have contributed in some way. All profits of Kustom Cane go towards You Cane Give, which has been very helpful in funding the initiative. Remember, do not let your old canes go to waste. Even if it is broken, we can repair or modify the cane so that someone may also acquire the chance of independence! Together, we can empower people who are blind or low vision one cane at a time.