My Kanga-Care Journey – Ayikoru Comfort Peace

Our guest for today is a Medical Doctor with a passion for social and healthcare innovation. She walks us through her journey as the CEO of Kanga-Care;

Hello Comfort, you are welcome to this episode of Words That Count. Thanks for joining us today
Hello Winnie, I am happy to connect with you and honored to tell my story through Words That Count.

Give a brief introduction about yourself
My name is Ayikoru Comfort Peace from Uganda. I recently finished my bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) and currently awaiting my internship as I volunteer in my community health center.

I am also the Co-Founder of Kanga-Care, legally registered as BuriCare Baby Carrier(U) Ltd. We are a social enterprise making locally knitted premature carriers fitted with vital monitoring sensors to detect derangement in vital signs.

Wow, this is a very important innovation in the healthcare sector! How did you realize your passion for healthcare?
Growing up, I always looked up to my dad who is a Medical Doctor. From childhood, I also wanted to become a Doctor and treat the sick in my community. My dad inspired me to read extra hard, which helped me be at the top of my class from primary to secondary. For my undergraduate studies, I received a scholarship from the government of Uganda to pursue my dream course at MUST.

While at the university, I realized books were not the only way I could impact my community – the Covid19 pandemic helped me know that. I volunteered with Reproductive Health Uganda and ZOA Relief where I was part of different outreaches in the different communities of Arua district and refugee camps. We trained people about menstrual health management and family planning methods. While rotating at the pediatric ward, I saw many mothers giving birth to preterm babies. Most of these babies would die due to preventable complications like Hypothermia, Respiratory distress, etc. This inspired me to come up with the Kanga-Care premature carrier with the knowledge I had acquired from my pediatric rotations.

It is a privilege to have people like you among us. Our healthcare systems need innovations like Kanga-Care!

Let’s talk about some of the challenges you have faced on your journey in healthcare innovation
Life was rather good until December 2017 when my dad fell ill and around that same time lost his job. This took a toll on all of us as it became hard to sustain us in school. I started reporting very late to campus due to finances and at times I would have to crack my head to make sure I didn’t starve at school. It was during this period that I put my brain to the test and started thinking of business ideas to try and make some money. I remember making and selling meat pies, and baking mandazi.

The Kanga-Care idea was also birthed during that period of brokenness. I can say it was a blessing in disguise as it opened my mind to think of possibilities. When I started Kanga-Care with my friends, I remember applying for different grants and failing every time, at some point I almost gave up.

What inspired you to not give up during such trying times?
My single most inspiration is to alleviate poverty, not only at my home but in my community at large because I have been there, and slept hungry before because I lacked. I want to be able to create job opportunities for people in my country so they can be independent. This alone gets my brain thinking of how to create such opportunities for others every day. I can say I am halfway there and I will make it someday.

Tell us about some of your most prestigious achievements in life
The greatest achievement in my life is being Born Again and believing in Jesus Christ as my lord and personal savior.

During my Primary 7, I was awarded as the best performing pupil in the National Examination of my school. I was also awarded at my Advanced level as the Best Performing Science Student of my school in the National Examinations.

In 2020, I participated in a competition organized by UNFPA and OUTBOX in line with SRHR. My project JEPHA Delivery Kits emerged among the best. We were awarded a grant to implement it and it is currently being prototyped in Arua District.

In early 2022, I participated in the Total Energies startupper of the Year Pitch competition using my Kanga-Care idea. We emerged as the best under business-creation ideas. Currently, we have registered the company and are almost finishing prototyping with their help. Also in July this year, Kanga-Care participated in the Starthub Inter-university internal pitch competitions and emerged among the winners using the same project. We also participated in the CAMTech Awards of Mbarara University and emerged among the best 3 for support and funding. We have also participated in international pitch competitions and won the best 3 Moonshot Awards organized by the Moonshot platform in New York.

Kanga-Care was also nominated for the Student Innovation Award in the 2022 Annual Heroes in Health Awards (HIHA) organized by the Ministry of Health of Uganda. We emerged winners of the award.

Personally, I have been selected to participate in the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) regional lab in Kenya Nairobi early next year.

We are very proud of the work you are doing in healthcare innovation!

Who is Comfort outside of work and school?
I love to socialize and make new friends, fashion and design, cooking, and eating delicious food. Good food makes me happy.

What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is a bible verse that states that with God, everything is possible (Mathew 19:26)

What is your word of encouragement for a young girl who is interested in healthcare innovation?
Persistence wears out resistance. If you have a dream, work towards achieving it no matter the hardships you face. Never give up and always trust in God and the rest shall be history.

Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Comfort! This is a very inspirational journey, and I know it will be a blessing to someone. We wish you the very best with Kanga-Care.

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