ASFA Physiotherapy Centre 

our vision and some background

Our vision

Established in 2014, our vision was to provide sustainable and high quality inpatient and outpatient physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation services. Facilitating independence and maximising function is key to everything we do to fully realise every patient’s potential. We support and encourage social inclusion of all our patients and their families so they feel valued members of society. As a result of project activities, traditional negative stereotypes of people with disabilities are changing, as participants become more active and skilled members of the community.

Our main focus is on paediatric physiotherapy care, providing treatment and rehabilitation for children with disabilities as well as some adult outpatient care. Demand is great and we hope to be able to expand our over-subscribed clinical services now our new centre is complete. See Future Hopes for more information.

Small beginnings…

Sr Josephine Nyiranzanwayimama, a sister from an order of Rwandan Franciscan Sisters called Les Sœurs Pénitentes de Saint François d’Assise au Rwanda, had been co-ordinating sewing activities to empower local women since 2005 in the remote village of Muganza, Nyaruguru District, Rwanda. She then took over co-ordinating outpatient services for children with disabilities in 2008 serving a population of approximately 300,000 and managed both projects from a tiny room with no electricty at the sisters community (convent) in Muganza.

The needs were many and with the support of Margie Salem and donors, in partnership with Global Development Group Australia,  ASFA Centre (Amis de Saint François d’Assise/Friends of St. Francis) opened its doors in January 2014 to provide a multi-purpose hall with guest accommodation, an office and a dormitory room where families could stay so they could get the early morning bus to town to receive medical treatment for their children at distant hospitals.

In July 2014, we joined forces with Sister Josephine and her team to help train two newly qualified Rwandan physiotherapists. Over the course of 10 days, 100 patients were assessed in three rural clinics. We are often amazed by the distance people travel to see us, with patients walking up to 20km – or being carried on a stretcher. We met a wonderful father who walked for six hours carrying his 20-year-old daughter and a mother who held her child on a motorbike journey for five hours. There are many humbling stories like this…

This trip confirmed the pressing need to establish a physiotherapy centre in Muganza where we could provide early intervention for disabled children. Highly experienced nurse and physiotherapist Sister Josepha Uwumuremyi moved to Muganza in September 2014 to welcome the first patients at ASFA Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Centre and was overwhelmed from day one with the acute demand for physiotherapy services.  Read more about ASFA today.


Troy Aitken

Founder, Chairman & Trustee
Troy is an experienced project manager who has had a love affair with Africa since 1999 when he worked at a primary school in South Africa. In 2006 he started...

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working with Oasis Africa in Kenya and the following year spent four months in Rwanda as a project manager building eight classrooms in Nyaruguru District, Southern Province.

“Since volunteering in Rwanda many years ago I’ve been passionate about Africa. I founded Make A Difference 4 Africa with the aim of making a real difference to people’s lives through education and healthcare projects. I live by the mantra 'Be the change you want to see in the world’."

Jette Jakobsen

Consultant Physiotherapist
Jette holds a Graduate Diploma in Physiotherapy from University College Lillebaelt in Denmark. She has over 25 years’ experience and works as a paediatric...

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physiotherapist at Achieving for Children where she is part of the Integrated Service for Disabled Children.

Jette has visited Rwanda a number of times and her paediatric expertise has been instrumental in establishing ASFA. Her dedication and can-do attitude are inspirational and there is nothing she can’t do with duct tape!

“The ASFA Physiotherapy Centre is so much more than ‘just’ a centre that provides treatment; it has become a unique hub where children with disabilities and their families can get advice, support and meet families with similar needs. It is a place that enables and opens up possibilities of independence, inclusion and improved quality of life.”

Jacinta Darrant

 HR & Communications Advisor

Jacinta is originally from Rwanda but now is a full-time mum living in the UK. Her dream is to make a difference to children's lives by meeting their educational and medical needs. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Human Resources from Middlesex University.

“It’s amazing to see how a small change can create a big impact to an individual and to the community as a whole.” From teaching English, sewing, carpentry, bricklaying, cookery and physiotherapy ...the list goes on! Thanks to MAD 4 Africa these programmes have made huge impacts on people’s lives! We are a small team with big dreams and I’m so proud to be part of it”.

Alison Hawksley

Chief Operating Officer & Trustee
Alison worked in commercial property before venturing into the entrepreneurial world as a co-owner of Lush, Steamcream and Balmonds skincare brands.

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One of her most rewarding jobs, however, was working with a child with learning differences at Barnes Primary School. It was here that she first became inspired to set up a partnership in 2009 with a school in Rwanda and help establish ASFA so that children in Rwanda with learning differences could reach their potential too.

“On my first visit to Rwanda in 2008, I was moved by the children’s industriousness, resilience, zest to learn and their ambition to achieve. I felt we in England had much to learn. I love that when two communities in different cultural settings plant the seeds of a vision together, something truly spectacular can grow and have lifelong benefits for many people.”

Margo Rodrigo

Educational Adviser
Margo is a Year 6 teacher at Barnes Primary School, a Leader for Learning and a member of the School’s Leadership Team.

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Margo has over 20 years experience in both the state and independent sectors and is also involved in working with teachers from other schools through Richmond Borough’s school partnerships programme. She has made numerous visits to Rusuzumiro Primary School and has played a lead role in fundraising, teacher training and strengthening school partnership link.

“I have had the privilege of visiting Rwanda on two separate occasions and in July 2018 I will be making my third visit. It has been a remarkable experience being part of this positive partnership whereby both schools - Barnes Primary and Rusuzumiro Primary - can learn about each other's education systems and cultural differences. Working together and learning from each other are the first steps to help 'Make a Difference' for people within the school and wider communities.”

Kate Hunt

Consultant Physiotherapist & Trustee
Kate holds a Graduate Diploma in Physiotherapy from King’s College London and an MSc from the University of Surrey in Counselling and Psychotherapy

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She runs her own practice in London, Hunt Physiotherapy,  where she provides a full musculoskeletal physiotherapy service to employees at The Telegraph and News UK newspaper groups. She has a specialist interest and expertise in the treatment of work-related upper limb and spinal disorders, posture and postural-related problems and is an expert in core stability training. Hunt Physiotherapy was accredited by the Rwandan Allied Health Professionals Council in May 2018 as an official provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Kate also holds a Foundation Degree in art and manages to combine her love of physiotherapy and art wherever she goes. Kate first visited Rwanda in 2014 to help train two newly qualified Rwandan physiotherapists and has been hooked ever since.

“Even with 31 years’ experience as a physio in the UK, it still amazed me, on my first trip to Rwanda, to see the impact physiotherapy can have. The simplest of interventions based on clear clinical reasoning and individual treatment planning can have the most incredible results and truly ‘'Make a [huge] Difference’ in the life of a patient. We have seen first hand how our physiotherapy input has helped a child to walk unaided, meaning they have been able to attend mainstream school for the first time.”

Richard Cooney

Treasurer & Trustee 

Richard is a Chartered Accountant with over 10 years experience in financial services. He  holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Otago, New Zealand and first  visited Rwanda in February 2020 to see the charity’s work first hand.

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What stuck with me most from visiting Rwanda was the pure joy and appreciation that I felt from the children.  Their smiles were infectious and I saw first-hand the life changing impact the charity was making.”

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UK registered charity number: 1127976