Mama Lucy lives in a Rwandan village and, with her husband, two daughters and a toddler grandson, she has a large family to look after. She sells milk from her cow and picks up tailoring work to support her family. Since being diagnosed as HIV positive she has coped with periods of extreme fatigue and illness, which made it hard to care for her family, but she also felt isolated and feared judgement.
Mama Lucy used to stay at home, cut off from her community, until she heard about Shooting Touch. Since 2018, Shooting Touch has received funding from donations to Comic Relief to change basketball courts into community classrooms. Young people and woman can get together and learn about key health issues, develop valuable life skills and rebuild their lives since the genocide through the joy of learning and playing basketball.
Mama Lucy was getting married to her second husband, he felt that women should not play basketball and stopped her from going to sessions. In the end she gave the ultimatum ‘if you want to marry me you must accept me for who I am–and that is a basketball player’. The team wanted to support Mama Lucy at home as well as on the court so, using money for special projects, they gave her a sewing machine so she could start up her own sewing business. Her husband now understands the importance of Mama Lucy attending Shooting Touch meetings and has also benefitted from the teaching sessions, including discussions around gender issues.
The sessions bring joy, friendship and respite to people like Mama Lucy. Shooting Touch also work with the local communities to break down the stigmas around HIV, so no one in the community feels alone and isolated. They encourage the sports teams to all get tested for HIV together, tackling a scary situation head on and creating a safe and accepting space for everyone. Mama Lucy says the programme is ‘her cure’ and has ambitions for the future, “I want to become the best tailor ever, and that’s still something I aim to do, It is my dream.”
More about the project
Shooting Touch delivers sessions to drive gender equality, reduce stigma and expand health work in rural Rwanda. The programme is transforming basketball courts into classrooms where youth, women, and their communities can learn essential health education, valuable life skills and provide access to sport and exercise. Comic Relief funding in partnership with the Scottish Government has enabled Shooting Touch to more than double the number of women they are able to positively impact in 2019.