An inspirational life in Kigali

Volunteering in Rwanda inspired HEINEKEN expat partner Zethy Mannucci to start studying psychology and now, five years later, she’s about to embark on a whole new career path.

Eager to give back

“We had such a fantastic life in Rwanda, surrounded by so many lovely people, and from the very beginning, I was eager to give something back to the community,” says Zethy, who is Peruvian-Spanish and lived in Kigali from 2013 to 2018. “In Perú, I’d been a TPM facilitator for P&G but I was also a part-time entertainer, performing at children’s parties! As you might guess, I love children dearly, so my first instinct was to see how I could support local schools.”

Long-term impact

Zethy started organising collections in Kigali and, when visiting children, she would also put on a short show. But over time she started to question the long-term value of her approach: “To better support children in need, I decided that I had to properly understand the minds and behaviours of children. That’s really what inspired me to start studying psychology, specialising in emotional intelligence.”

Skills-based volunteering

While in Kigali, Zethy also had a voluntary role at Winnaz, where she met another Global Connection member Joop Dekker, a shareholder of Rwanda’s biggest chips producer: “I ran courses that utilised the knowledge I’d accumulated while working at P&G to empower and upskill factory staff at Winnaz. It was an extremely rewarding work experience that I did with a lot of love,” says Zethy, who also ran a weekend club for expat kids (with her three children and husband all helping out) called ‘Spanish for fun’.

Everyone’s a winner

“Running the Spanish club really helped me to understand so much of the neuroscience behind learning and child development. Plus my kids loved being involved and all the proceeds went toward funding charity projects at local schools, so it was win-win-win,” says Zethy, who now lives in Tunisia, where she recently completed her online studies. “Now that I’ve graduated, I’m ready for the next step: setting up my own coaching business aimed at supporting kids to face change and build resilience. I didn’t realise my expat life would present me with so many wonderful opportunities to learn and grow. I’m really thankful for the help that I received from HEINEKEN partner support and Josien Berkenvelder at Global Connection along the way.”

Photo: Zethy with school children in Kigali

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