Emmanuel Tuombe is passionate about a lot of things. His family. His businesses. His communities. And while he serves on a local level, he has a broader mission to act on a global stage by developing relationships with business partners and friends around the world. He’s also passionate about his home country of Rwanda, Africa.


Jet Tan during internship in Rwanda.

His passion for his communities has created a unique opportunity for American students to experience Tuombe’s native culture while enhancing their future medical careers. “I have the unique benefit of being connected to both the African and the American communities, and I like to leverage my connections to make a positive impact in those communities. Having a global perspective changes how you approach life and allows me to appreciate the different opportunities that different communities provide and gives me a unique approach of looking for solutions that our communities need,” says Tuombe.

Tuombe has helped connect two Memphis area students to healthcare internships in Rwanda. It’s part of his mission to make a difference in his community through business, mentorship, and relationships.

“When I learned that these two students were looking for opportunities to experience healthcare systems in other countries and cultures, I was happy to help them connect,” Tuombe says. “I’m glad that they could experience Rwanda’s healthcare system and get to see a little of my beautiful country. I know that once one gets an opportunity to experience the world outside their comfort zone, their lives will never be the same. To me it was more than the healthcare internship, it was a life internship.”

It began in 2017 when Tuombe learned that a friend’s college-age son, Joshua Lin, was interested in interning overseas to get a more rounded perspective on the profession he planned to pursue – dentistry.


Hope and Emmanuel Tuombe and Jet Tan.

Tuombe offered to help, making a few calls to contacts in his home country. Because of those connections, Lin, a Memphis native, was offered an internship at the University Teaching Hospital of Butare in Butare, Rwanda. “The only reason I had this opportunity was because of Emmanuel,” Joshua says.

Joshua, who is currently finishing his residency in periodontics at Columbia University in New York City, said the experience of shadowing dentists in Rwanda was powerful. “It’s truly amazing the level of training that they have there,” he says. Education and training for those in the dentistry field never ends in the Rwandan healthcare system. Dentists continue to learn throughout their professional life, which creates providers with profound levels of expertise and experience.

Joshua said despite what many Americans think about healthcare in Africa, the Rwandan healthcare system is quite advanced. In fact, Rwanda “has one of the best organized health care systems in Africa,” according to the Yale School of Medicine. Rwandans can obtain healthcare insurance for $2 annually. Care is provided by an organized network that includes local clinics, district hospitals and three referral hospitals, including the University Teaching Hospital of Butare, where Lin interned.

The internship experience expanded Lin’s knowledge of another culture and opened his eyes to another healthcare system. In the end, he thinks the experience will make him a better doctor. And he credits Tuombe with making it happen.

“In my life, there have been mentors who have furthered my own abilities, and Emmanuel is definitely one of them,” he said. “He’s dedicated to helping out students like me and as an added benefit, his country. It’s absolutely admirable.”

Jet Tan also benefited from Tuombe’s connections in Rwanda.

A Memphis native, Tan earned his chemical engineering degree from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2022. He begins medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis in August 2024.

A childhood friend of Lin, Tan was intrigued when he learned about the Rwanda internship opportunity. While waiting for medical school interviews, he worked as a volunteer firefighter/EMT, but he knew that more intern or shadowing experience would benefit him when applying for medical schools. “I talked to Joshua about it. For him, it solidified what he wanted to go into, which was dentistry,” Tan says. “He had a great experience.”

Tan reached out to Tuombe, who once again made connections at the University Teaching Hospital of Butare.

During his three-week internship at the hospital in July 2023, Tan shadowed radiologists, a career path he’s considering. He was fascinated to see that in Rwanda, radiologists engage in a great deal of direct patient care.

“It was interesting to see how close the radiologists were to their patients,” he says. “The radiologists would sometimes even perform the ultrasounds themselves.” The situation allowed him to watch and learn. He also helped with note dictation, which helped him learn terminology.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “You can shadow an American doctor … but the cultural standpoint will be the same. But when you go to Rwanda, it’s a totally different cultural experience. It’s just generally a good experience. It keeps your mind open.”

Not only did Tuombe connect Tan with the teaching hospital, but his own brother picked up Tan at the airport and settled him in the country. A friend of Tuombe helped him as well, welcoming him into his home for a meal and offering advice and guidance on everything from bus services to cell phone data. “They were the best guys I’ve ever met in my life,” Tan says.

Tuombe sees the internship opportunities as an extension of his mission – to make his communities and the world a better place. By helping Memphis-area students connect to international healthcare experiences, he hopes they will become stronger providers and have a more open mind when it comes to caring for patients from different cultures.

Tuombe says the opportunity to connect Tan and Lin is a continuation of his mission. “My mission is to make a positive impact in my community either through businesses such as my engineering company ABES Engineering or through empowering others such as assisting students from the United States and from Rwanda to partner, learn from each other and visit interchangeably,” he says. “Cross cultural exchanges can do a lot to bring about understanding and compassion.”

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