Sandrine ISHEJA, A WOMAN WITH THE GLASS SLIPPERS

A strong woman accepts both compliments and criticism graciously knowing that it takes both sun and rain for a flower to grow. Sandrine is a woman who beat all odds to get to where she is.

At first glance, you would not fail to want to have a family of your own. Sandrine Isheja has a beautiful family and you would think that they are a scene in your favorite movie. She welcomed us to her home and allowed us to spend the whole afternoon with her and her family.

Sandrine Isheja is a Radio presenter, moderator, wife, and mother. Married to Kagame Peter with a one-year-old boy Karl, she seems to have it all.
It was not my first time to meet her but every time we crossed paths her humility, warmth and welcoming heart always left me impressed. I always find myself asking if she is the same person I listen to on the radio every morning.

I try to compare her simplicity to the hundreds of thousand followers on her social media and I just can’t fathom.

A strong woman accepts both compliments and criticism graciously knowing that it takes both sun and rain for a flower to grow. Sandrine is a woman who beat all odds to get to where she is. She simply did not settle. A woman who knows her worth cannot be reckoned with.

When I asked her what secret she used to get to where she is she simply said that growing up she was determined and focused.

“I was always that girl who woke up with a purpose and intent. I believed that anything is possible and I was willing to put in the work.” Said Sandrine Isheja.

The last born of three children Sandrine was raised by a single mother and she did all her education in Rwanda. She got both her bachelors and masters from the University of Rwanda in both Journalism and Mass Communication as well as Gender studies.

Her mother who currently runs an association that helps women victims of violence inspired her to be hardworking as well as an activist for gender equality and women’s rights.

“When my father passed away, my mum took his role and we never lacked anything. Despite what society said about single mothers she fought to give us a future filled with opportunities.” Explained Sandrine Isheja.
Furthermore, she explained that life was not always a bed of roses and she had to fight her way through despite the limits that were placed by society.

HOW DID YOU MEET?
Him: We first met in 2011 through a friend of mine who was her co-host at Isango Star where she used to work. He was also my roommate. We continued to meet at casual hangouts.

WHEN DID YOU BECOME ROMANTICALLY INVOLVED?
Her: We used to meet in casual hangouts and he would always want us to meet just the two of us but I was never interested. I kept on ignoring his calls and we later bumped into each other in a toa wn in 2013 and I felt guilty for always ignoring his calls. I accepted to go on a date with him and the rest is history.

WAS IT HARD TO GET SANDRINE?
Not really… (Laughter breaks out in the room and Sandrine turns to stare at him) Don’t get me wrong. I really had to put my best foot forward to sweep her off her feet. But what I meant is that we had mutual friends and we would meet in hangouts and that gave me an opportunity to get close to her.

SANDRINE TELL US ABOUT THE DAY HE PROPOSED?
When our relationship started out, we both did not know where it would lead but one or two years down the road, you begin to think about the future and we both knew that we wanted to share our lives together. He used to ask me what my ideal proposal looked like and I had shared with him some of the things that I wanted. He proposed on my birthday.

My family and some of my close friends were present to share the excitement with me.

WAS IT WHAT YOU EXPECTED?
Her: It was beyond what I expected. It was an unforgettable evening filled with love and laughter. To have a room filled with people who genuinely care for you and a man you adore down on one knee asking you for your hand… it’s beyond words. It was magical.

And above all, I was surprised as much as I knew that he had plans to propose. He did not show any signs and when that evening came he was not dressed very casual and in my mind, I knew all men wear suits or something extra… little did I know! (Giggles from both)

KAGAME WERE YOU NERVOUS WHEN YOU PROPOSED?
Not really. I was confident and I didn’t really have the fear of rejection because I was confident that she was the one I wanted and we had had talks prior to that night and we both shared the same opinion.

HOW ARE YOU ENJOYING THE MARRIAGE LIFE?
Him: It is slightly challenging because we are both turning over a new leaf and none of us both has experience. We are learning together. Before I made choices that only benefited me but now I know that my actions affect my family. So I am learning.

Her: It is an exciting new journey. It is very different from the dating life since we used to meet and after some time he would drop me home and continue with his plans. But when you are married you get to live with someone you love, can you imagine the beauty in that! Sometimes the challenge is sharing the space with someone, same room, same closet.

SO, WHO HAS MORE SHOES?
Her: He does (both giggle)

WHO HAS MORE CLOTHES?
Her: He does (both burst into laughter)
Him: Really?

WHAT DOES KAGAME DO THAT ALWAYS SURPRISES YOU?
He loves grocery shopping! And not in just a supermarket but he prefers to shop in a real market. And he holds down conversations with the ladies calling them by their names and he enjoys it! That amazes me. I love it about him considering that I don’t like it as much. (Says it with a smile on her face)

WHAT DOES SANDRINE DO THAT ALWAYS SURPRISES YOU?
When it comes to cleaning, folding and keeping things away, she has hidden powers. She can walk into a room with clothes all over the place and in just a few minutes everything is sparkly clean. There are many other things that I love about her.

WHAT DO YOU BOTH HAVE IN COMMON?
Him: One thing that I noticed is that we both value prayer, we pray together when we wake up and every night before we go to bed. It’s rare to find someone you share with such beliefs. Some might even do it just to please you but for us, prayer is rooted deep within us.

IF SANDRINE WAS NOT A CELEBRITY, COULD YOUR LIVES BE ANY DIFFERENT?
Him: The only difference would be outside our house but not in our family. We live just like any other ordinary family and if she wasn’t a celebrity it would not affect us in any way. But outside our house, it would change a lot.
Her: Our family would not be affected in any way. When I get home I am a mother and a wife and that matters more.

IF SANDRINE GOT A JOB AWAY FROM THE FAMILY FOR A MONTH, WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE HER TO TAKE IT?
Even if it’s longer than one month I would agree. (Sandrine laughs). I think what would matter is why am I refusing her from going? If what she is doing is helping her grow in her career or as an individual and also if it has a positive impact on our family then it is an opportunity worth taking.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO SUPPORT YOUR WIFE?
Him: I am her manager and also her lawyer. I ease some of her workloads by doing some errands for her. I help grow her image and the best part is that I know her strength and I help to maximize on it.

HOW DO YOU MIX BEING HER MANAGER AND HER HUSBAND AT THE SAME TIME?
Him: I am only her manager when it comes to business but the rest of the time I am her husband.
Her: I like it because he understands me and I know that he puts my best interest first. Sometimes when I have a gig at a place far and have to get home late it is always comforting to know that I am with my husband. We also complement each other. We have different personalities and my weaknesses are his strength.

WHO SPENDS MORE TIME ON THE MIRROR?
(Giggles from both)
Her: He does
Him: In my defense, I spend more time because I have to shave my beard.
GROWING UP DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A RADIO PRESENTER?
Not really I wanted to be a translator as well as an air hostess. Though when I was in primary school I resembled a tv presenter and people always asked me if I knew her, which later got me inspired to join media. That’s how I considered the profession and later at the university, got the opportunity to be introduced to the different forms of media and I felt comfortable with radio.

THE CHALLENGES AS A RADIO PRESENTER THAT YOU ENDURED STARTING OUT IN GENERAL AND AS A WOMAN IN YOUR PROFESSION?
First of all my mum did not understand it. The mentality that people had back in the day is that journalists only talked about gossip and she also thought that the profession did not have money. I also started out working late nights which meant I had to go home very late and in our culture, it is not good.  And also as a woman, I was put in a box. I was only expected to do soft things like food shows and the other fields were considered too challenging, therefore, left for the men. I saw this as an opportunity and I did my best to become a better person each and every time.

AS A HARDWORKING LADY, WHERE DO YOU WANT TO SEE YOURSELF IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS?
I would love to start my own business, maybe open up my own radio station or hopefully start a psychologist practice in Rwanda since I believe that human beings are broken and we sometimes need a platform and a professional person to talk to.

SOCIETY TELLS US THAT IN LIFE WE SHOULD STUDY, FIND A GOOD JOB, HUSBAND AND HAVE CHILDREN. WHAT DO YOU ACCREDIT YOUR PERFECT LIFE TO?
Her: I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a perfect life. All I can say is that life unfolds differently for different people. I am blessed with what I have.
Him: Perfect life does not exist. We are on planet earth and we are consistently faced with challenges and we face them as any other person.

SANDRINE, WHAT VALUES SHOULD YOUNG GIRLS HAVE?
They should respect themselves. When you carry yourself with the dignity it does not reduce anything on your beauty but instead, add on it. They should be hard working and have a sense of wanting to be independent.

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