Barnes Primary & Rusuzumiro

school partnership

Established in 2009, we work together to foster strong cultural links, share good practice between schools and improve educational standards

The partnership was set up to:

Foster mutual respect, cultural awareness and friendship between the two schools and their communities
Raise funds for mutually agreed projects that would help improve standards at Rusuzumiro School
Actively engage students in the partnership in a way that is real and relevant so that each community can learn from the other
Nurture regular communication so the impact of charitable donations and activities can clearly be assessed

Since 2009, Barnes Primary has raised over £65,000 to fund capacity-building projects at G.S. Rusuzumiro School in Rwanda.

This has been achieved through events such as the annual ‘Run 4 Rusuzumiro’, sponsored bike rides, Africa-inspired art exhibitions, Christmas Carol and Harvest Festival services, the famous Barnes Bake-Off spectacular, children’s art/toy sales, movie nights and some generous one-off donations – a real testament to the incredible community spirit at Barnes Primary School, both within Barnes and across borders.

Please click here if you would like to support the Rusuzumiro School in Rwanda.


The Results


School uniforms

New books in partnership with Book Aid International


Barnes & Rusuzumiro School Partnership in Numbers

  • 1 black/white photocopier (2010)
  • 1 sewage pumping system (2013)
  • Printer toner cartridges (2014)
  • Mains electricity connection (2014)
  • 1 mobile science lab (2015)
  • 2 laptops (2015)
  • 2 iPads (2015)
  • 2,500 lunches (2015)
  • 243 lunch plates (2015)
  • Repointing brick walls in classrooms (2015)
  • Numeracy, science & literacy resources (2015)
  • Teacher training resources (2015)
  • 1 projector and screen (2015)
  • 4 mobile phones (2015)
  • 14 in-classroom library corners with books (2015)
  • 1,200 pencils (2016)
  • 1 mobile science lab (2016)
  • 10 footballs, lots of bouncy balls (2016)
    • 300 sharpeners and erasers (2016)
    • 2 retaining walls (2016/ Jan 2022)
    • 860 school uniforms (2016, 2018)
    • TV (2017)
    • 1 girls washroom/sick bay building (2017)
    • 8 new toilets (2017)
    • 450 new books from Book Aid International (2018)
    • 1 school library with bookcases (2018)
    • 600+ items of sports kit donated by parents working at National Tennis Association (2019, 2022, 2023)
    • 2 SmartClassrooms (March 2020)
    • SmartClassroom 100 chairs and 20 tables (Sept 2020)
    • 2 library bookcases (Dec 2020)
    • Teaching resources (March 2021)
    • 1 colour photocopier (March 2021)
    • 2,700+ health insurance cards for low income families that provide access to primary healthcare  (2017 – July 2023)  
    • Fence & gate project (in progress Nov 2023)

    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.”

    We're fundraising!

    Be part of our life-changing projects and Make a Difference today

    UK registered charity number: 1127976  

    A few highlights…

    In the 2016/2017 academic year, £11,800 was raised by Barnes Primary to fund electricity to senior classrooms, construction of a washroom block, eight toilets and a small library.
    Improved educational outcomes for Rusuzumiro: 99.07% pass rate at P6 2016 national exams; 34% qualified to enter prestigious ‘boarding schools’ (up from 24% in 2015); higher attendance rates with 63 more children sitting national exams.
    The Lawn Tennis Association (kindly organised by a former Barnes Primary parent!) generously donated sports kit to Rusuzumiro and two other local schools.
    In 2017/2018 Barnes Primary funded Rusuzumiro School’s first dedicated library and paid for transport to deliver over 500 books donated by Book Aid International.  In November 2020, further funds were donated to build two new bookcases. Internation
    “The children are very proud of their new library and are developing their knowledge of the world and a love of reading.”
    Dalexis Nzabahimana

    English teacher

    Members of Barnes Primary community rowed 34km in the 2017 London Great River Race to raise money for the new residential accommodation at ASFA Physio Centre.
    Rusuzumiro School joined Barnes Primarys’ Newsnuggets Club taking the news club international and winning the People’s Choice Award at the BrightFuture Awards at City Hall in Dec 2016

    2020-2021 Projects

    After an eight month break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rusuzumiro School started a new academic year in November 2020.

    As times are challenging for everyone this year, Barnes Primary are focusing on three smaller projects to support their partner school.

    Total project cost for 2020/2021 – £935 (COMPLETED)      


    2019-2020 Projects

    SmartClassroom project cost: Approx. £17,000

    Following an impressive year of fund raising in 2018/2019, construction started on 3 September 2019 to build two ICT classrooms at Rusuzumiro School. Not to be out done in this partnership, a number of very industrious (and strong!) Rusuzumiro parents excavated the ground! Six months and unprecdented heavy rain later (!) two new ICT classrooms were completed just as the pandemic stopped school in March 2020.

    Of the 32 builders on site in October 2019, 31 either had children or siblings at Rusuzumiro School. This illustrates that the benefit of this project reached far beyond two new classrooms that hundreds of students will enjoy for years to come but it also helped to improve livings standards for a number of local families.

    There was no spare furniture available to put in the new Smartclassrooms so a further £2,500 was raised to make 20 computer tables and 100 chairs in June/ July 2020 (50 students per classroom). 

    The final stage of this project was the delivery of 100 computers from the Rwandan Education Board (REB) which, after delays due to the pandemic, finally arrived in March 2021. However, the classrooms are now in full swing! 

    Fence & Gate Project – cost £11,500   – ON HOLD due to the pandemic

    The final project in the BIG 10th Anniversary Project challenge is  The Fence and Gate Project. This will ensure that school resources everyone has worked  so hard to provide will be kept safe. 

    Glasses Project –  formerly loved adult/child glasses donated by Barnes Primary were delivered to Rusuzumiro in July 2019.  Finding an optometrist is proving more difficult than expected but we shall keep trying and in the interim, hope that the government’s eye testing programme will reach Rusuzumiro School soon! 

    Thank you for all your support – it really does make a difference to over 1,400 students at Rusuzumiro School, their teachers and their families.

    Together, we really can Make A Difference!

    (below) Construction of ICT classrooms at Rusuzumiro – Sept 2019)



    Completed 2021

    • 2 book shelves (including delivery) –  £160 (Completed Feb 2021) )
    • 1 colour printer (inc. delivery) – £475 (Completed March 2021)
    •  Teaching resources – approx £300    (Completed March 2021)
    • Rwanda Education Board delivers SmartClassroom computers (March 2021)

    Completed 2020

    • July 2020 – 347 heath insurance cards for the year July 2020 – June 2021. A £3 health card gives a person annual access to the national healthcare system.
    • March 2020 – The Smart Classroom Project comprising two dedicated new ICT classrooms.

    Completed July 2019

    • 360 health insurance cards for low income families for the year July 2019 – June 2020.
    • 360 school uniforms for low income families.  

     Completed July 2018

    • 360 health insurance cards for low income families for the year July 2018 -June 2019.
    • Installation of three lightning conductors

    Completed March 2018

    • 360 uniforms for children from low income families

    Completed November 2017

    • Dedicated library and transportation of Book Aid International books from Kigali to Rusuzumiro School.

    Completed April – July 2017

    • Eight new toilets
    • Washroom block with sick bay, toilets and shower. 

    Completed April 2014

    • Connection of electricty from the main street to the classrooms

    Completed 2010 

    • The schools first photocopier!

    In addition, teachers have enjoyed professional development workshops and students at both schools to strengthen the school partnership such as English and Newsnuggets Clubs, Art Exhibitions, Rwandan Dance workshops, and a number of collaborative projects. New teaching resources, as well as well-loved children’s shoes,  clothes, toys and books have been donated over the ye

    Thank you Barnes Primary School for your continued support of our school – we appreciate this wonderful school partnership!

    (below) – Barnes Primary School parent, Cate Summers, enjoys finding a new home for each pair of shoes donated by friends from Barnes Primary –  June 2019.