Forty two years ago, a boy was born from the remote Rungu cell, Gatagara sector of Musanze district in the foot of volcanoes, the home to Rwanda’s rare mountain gorillas.
They called him Anatole Manzi. His memoirs include his chores; hiking the volcanoes to fetch water, before walking to his Nyabirehe Primary school.
Until now, his village is yet to access clean water, but it has recently got electricity, courtesy of Manzi.
While at school, the only gift Manzi could afford to give his family was one and only; excellency at school and this was guaranteed through his basic education journey. He saw many a classmate drop out while failing to endure the hustle, but for him, he was determined, “to study and be useful to the community.”
He won Primary Living Examination and was admitted at a secondary school from the neighboring town, Ecole des Sciences et Techniques de Busogo(ESTB).
After the Ordinary Level(O’level) he also had a great performance and he pursued his education at Lycee de Kigali, a government school in the heart of the capital Kigali, known for excellency.
From Lycee de Kigali, Manzi won national exam and obtained government scholarship for the University of Rwanda where he would enroll in the Faculty of Medicine, department of Public Health where he graduated with PhD in 2013.
“I was sole graduate with this level thanks to hardworking,” Manzi said.
“Let’s say that I was not the best of all, but at university, our courses reflected our real life and thus, you do not need rocket science to understand that the poor needs life.”
At university, he said, Harvard lecturers among others, contributed to his success.
Meanwhile, way before his graduation at PhD, Manzi was fortunate to be hired at Partners In Health(PIH), an organisation known locally as Inshuti Mu Buzima.
It has worked in Rwanda since 2005, helping the government fight HIV, improve maternal and child health, and bring integrated, high-quality health care to more than 860,000 people across Burera, Kayonza, and Kirehe districts.
In 2014, he was promoted and relocated to serve the organisation in the United States of America where talks to have him contribute to education in the prestigious Harvard University started.
“Due to the profile of my work, the objectives of Harvard which rhyme with several research I conducted on ways to improve quality of health in Rwanda and beyond, they proposed me an offer to contribute to the university as lecturer,” Manzi said.
“The objective was to have me offer to the students the skills that would allow them to also contribute to improving quality of health after graduation in several countries across the world. I accepted the offer and I am serving the Harvard Medical school as lecturer since 2018.”
However, he continued to serve his organisation-Partners in Health, currently as Deputy Chief America Officer.
Through these services to the world via the prestigious Harvard University and Partners In Health, Manzi did not however forget home.
He gives back to the community where he started life with a really humble beginning.
Manzi started Move Up Grobal, a project that seeks to improve education and health in underprivileged communities.
Particularly, for his Nyabirehe school, Manzi joined hands with other alumni and founded Ireme Education for Social Impact(IESI).
They started with providing electricity and water to the school, then built a library, a computer lab for the teachers among other infrastructure that Manzi and colleagues launched early this week.
Meanwhile, more is coming. Manzi announced a poultry project that intends to start with 1000 units in near future, for the school to assure good health of the pupils.
“Growing up, I had an ambition to cater for those who are suffering lack to an extent that they could not put food on the table. I would always feel sorry that we did not have water, electricity,” said Manzi to explain his focus on improving wellbeing of rural communities.
“I never tolerate mediocrity; my goal has always been that of change, putting things right.”
Manzi is married and father of three.