Written by: Admin_SheEvo

Growing up, I always imagined myself working on television, a dream fueled by my only hobby: watching TV. Back in the day, guardians/parents were strict about what TV shows their children watched, so besides; “scooby doo”, “power rangers” and “Teletubbies” (cartoons), Kids Corner and Teens Club (aired on WBS TV -Uganda’s most prominent TV station back in the 90’s) were the only shows I watched.

When Queen Elizabeth visited Uganda in November 2007, Sheila Gashumba was among the News reporters covering her visit. At the age of 10, She was able to interview one of the world’s most renowned people, ‘rub shoulders’ with delegates and stroll into locations many only dreamed about. That made journalism (though I had no idea what it was called at the time) my dream job.

When I finished secondary school, despite my father’s desire for me to take a course in “Information Technology,” I begged him to let me study “Mass Communication.” Unfortunately, he did not have the financial means to satisfy my request, so I went for a ‘Diploma in Hairdressing’ with the hope that I could pursue my dream course upon completion.

During my internship, I encountered the meanest women I’d ever met (they used to evaluate me based on my size and age, informing my supervisor that I wasn’t suited to work on them). As a result, I lost interest in the profession and chose to pursue another path: a study course in Beauty Therapy. Unlike hairdressing, this one went so effortlessly that I made money before graduating. What would have been an internship was instead a position at one of the finest spas in Kampala (Soothing Spot Spa), situated at the posh ‘Garden City Mall’ where my clients were Uganda’s “creme de la creme”, earned a five-figure salary and ‘massive’ tips.

For a ‘newbie’ in the employment sector, there was nothing more I desired other than finding a way to put my money to good use (going back to school). Unfortunately, this was not possible because my father contracted a peculiar disease that had him quit his job, bestowing on me the responsibility of taking care of the family as I was the eldest daughter. The responsibility became heavier as the years passed until I was forced to travel to a foreign nation (Rwanda) to make ends meet. Little did I know that God was directing me to my ideal career (journalism).

Working in Rwanda:
While working at Healing Spa in Kibagabaga, a Kigali, Rwandan suburb, among my clients were three ‘guardian angels’ who believed in me more than I ever believed in myself, I will call them Robert, Kenneth and Leonard.

Robert, who happens to be my client to date, was the first to tell me how I didn’t belong in a massage room. During our conversation, he asked me what I would be doing if I weren’t a massage therapist. Without hesitation, I replied that I would be a journalist. He then asked me what was stopping me from pursuing my dream, to which I reluctantly replied, “Money is the problem.” However, I didn’t take his words seriously because he is a very chatty person. To make ends meet, I started working on clients privately to earn some extra money. Leonard was the first client I worked on from the comfort of his home. He acted like a father figure during the massages, which made me feel comfortable around him.

Through him, I met Kenneth, one of his friends. Kenneth asked me the same question Robert did about what I would do for a living if I weren’t a massage therapist. Surprisingly, he encouraged me to pursue my dream and even promised financial support. If you grew up in Uganda during the 1990s and early 2000s, you’ll know that accepting gifts from strangers was frowned upon. Let me bring you up to speed if you’re not from Uganda. Back then, there were rumours of “child sacrifice,” where people would present young children to the gods in exchange for wealth. They would trick them using money and small gifts, then take them to shrines where they would kill them. For this reason, I was taught not to take gifts from strangers. Even as an adult, I still don’t accept free things from people I know little about. Therefore, I didn’t take Kenneth’s offer seriously, but I did take his advice to go back to school.

The journey of Mount Kenya University in Rwanda (MKUR).
In January 2021, I visited MKUR to inquire if I could return to school after a long break. Fortunately, it was possible, so I enrolled. My first year at university went smoothly because I was still working, and paying for tuition wasn’t too difficult. However, I had to adapt to the new system of coursework and learning with Microsoft Teams and CATs (Continuous Assignments). Thankfully, I adapted quickly and received two As, one B, and two Cs on the five units I was evaluated on.

As my educational journey progressed, the challenges became more significant. Balancing work and school became a nightmare, and my employer was not making the situation any easier. I was forced to choose between the two, and I chose school due to Kenneth’s pledge, which kept playing in my mind. Leonard had left the country, and Kenneth replaced him as a private client. Even though I had initially declined his offer, we remained in touch as he continued to be a regular client at the spa. However, the money I earned was not enough to cover all my expenses, so I had to look for a permanent job to earn more.

In May 2022, I got a job at Muci Nail Bar as a receptionist, and even when the pay was insufficient, I persevered because my employer was very understanding. She allowed me to continue with my education. When our ancestors said, “You can’t serve two masters at once”, they meant it. Nonetheless, for some reason, we see sticking to one thing as ‘incompetence’, so we choose to multitask. There I was, working, studying, and dealing with all sorts of life’s responsibilities. The result was depression, anxiety, and an ‘odd illness’ (I refer to it as odd because doctors at three different hospitals in Kigali and one in Kampala were unable to diagnose it).

In brief, from January to November 2022, my life was a wreck. And as if that wasn’t enough, December decided that I should crown the year with more pain when my dad passed on the 27th.

The school years.
The third and final year of university didn’t start any better than the second. In fact, it was worse. Kenneth, who was one of my sources of income, informed me that he was returning to his native country a week after I had returned to Rwanda from my dad’s funeral. He stated that he intended to stay away for three months, meaning my other source of income was to be cut off. I was filled with thoughts, regrets, and what-if scenarios. I wondered whether I should continue with my studies or drop out and focus on my former career as a massage therapist. The thought of how much I had already invested and the sacrifices I had made thus far had me endure all hardships.

“The Victory”
As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Allow me to attest to this truth. Although I was going through a lot emotionally and financially, Kenneth’s departure helped me rediscover myself. I discovered new hobbies, made new friends, strengthened my relationship with God, and learned to appreciate life in all its forms.

Looking back, I wonder whether I would have graduated with a first class had I accepted his financial offer or if he didn’t leave Rwanda. How would I have valued “each drop of water” if someone else was carrying it for me?

On 8 December 2023, I added a Bachelor of Mass Media and Communication with a major in Public Relations to my two diplomas. This officially changed my job title from ‘massage therapist’ to ‘journalist’ – from a massage room to the newsroom.



My name is Yasmine Luhandjula, and I am the Chief Editor for She Evolves World. My role is to plan, manage and produce quality, engaging and informative content for our readers.