My Life Experience in Overcoming Difficulties

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My name is Shrishti Kharel. I was born and raised in rural side of Janakpur, Nepal. I am a first generation college student and a first generation immigrant to the United States. I grew up in Nepal hearing stories, how many have died during childbirth, bleeding, poor hygiene, diseases; the reasons were numerous. My childhood surpassed witnessing huge chronic health issues, many stemming from the low standards of living. It was quite a struggle for many parents including mine, to provide basic food and shelter to their children. The concept of hygiene was almost non-existed. Many of us had never seen a hospital and those who had only when they were severely ill or about to die.

The situation has not changed much even after two decades. Majority of the people have to walk at least a couple of hours if not few days to get to a basic healthcare. Superstition and traditional beliefs are still rooted in people’s minds and souls. As the diseases looked rampant, so does the infrastructures, resources and more specifically the care that is provided with so minimally trained healthcare staffs. Health care has largely remained inaccessible to many middle class Nepalese families. Many do not have protection or security against economic effects of sickness. My upbringings helped me to discover a personal fortitude, overcoming struggles to pursue my goals and aspirations to become a public health advocate.

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I came to the United States, nearly fifteen years ago, with a dream that someday I can go to graduate school. Unfortunately, right after I came here, Maoist insurgency vigorously aroused, and the whole country went into the civil war. I lost many relatives during that war. This tragedy has pushed my parents to lose their jobs and made me a sole provider to take care of my household. Nepal’s weakening economy has influenced me so much that I ended up majoring in Economics as my undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University. It has allowed me to understand a powerful fundamental fact of life which begins with scarcity. It has helped me to understand the relationship between service provider and individual patient from an economic perspective while remaining ever-mindful of human aspirations and vulnerability where risk to health is concerned.

Despite living abroad in the United States, a student life and a constant financial problem, I allowed myself to dream beyond the confines of life in the kitchen. My experiences have helped me shed some of my skepticism of hopelessness and embrace education. Living over a decade in the United States I discovered, rural America is not different from Nepal in resource allocation. The obstacles rural Americans face in health care access, shortage of healthcare providers and economic differences remains as scarce as in Nepal. Earlier in 2018, I obtained a membership for Virginia Rural Health Association. I had a privilege to participate in their national conference and meet various passionate States’ public health leaders. Their meetings encouraged me to make a commitment to advocate for policy changes that support the development of health promoting behaviors as well as learn and inform with new, emerging rural health issues.

I had an opportunity to get involved in placing a health service trip to remote Nepal, on January 2011. This health service trip was conducted through, Swastha Nepal, a student organization, from the College of William & Mary. Our team could raise funds and successfully place free medical camps in two places in remote Nepal. We also distributed free drugs to the poor villagers and worked on collectively towards our public health research. We also interviewed and saw as many as one thousand patients in two different places. Those interviews were compelling, emotional and personal. Some of the stories sounded all too familiar. I felt like I was witnessing my childhood all over again. It was heartbreaking to witness poverty directly threatening people’s health.

Poverty, superstition, gender inequality, lack of transportation and physical limitations, created barriers to those sparse populations to receive our free services. There was no greater privilege than providing physical, emotional, and spiritual support to others in need. Upon my return, I helped to co-found a nonprofit, Hope for Children, in Nepal, and sponsored two poor children’s educational expenses. It gives me immense pleasure to provide lunches, books and supplies, pay for those poor children’s school tuitions.

I have a come a long way. My journey has taught me to be resilient and deal adversities with a great courage. My life’s challenges have up lifted me. They have taught me valuable lessons. I believe the diverse background that I bring among the student body will add a unique problem solving skills to the MPH program. I believe it will help me create a balance between the two worlds I am a part of. The fact that I survived and I am applying to your Masters program reminds me about my privilege, and the subsequent drive to give something back to the underserved population. My ultimate goal is to pursue a doctoral program with a concentration in health policy and administration to lessen health disparity outcomes, locally as well as globally. It is my strong desire to attend the Old Dominion University to obtain an MPH degree to contribute a significant impact on human lives.

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My Life Experience in Overcoming Difficulties. (2022, Aug 21). Retrieved from

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