Doctor of Philosophy candidate
More and more Nepalese are working abroad, and that is starting to have an impact on the country. AUT PhD student Til Chhetri is investigating one of the ways this migration trend could affect public health in Nepal – HIV transmission and prevention.
“The national census of Nepal shows that almost a third of Nepalese households include at least one migrant worker working abroad. Earlier studies also highlighted that Nepalese migrant workers and their spouses are at high-risk of HIV and a key population for HIV transmission in Nepal. I wanted to study the life of Nepalese migrant workers and the context and behaviour related to HIV risk in more detail.
“I chose participatory and empowerment-oriented research to generate a safe space for marginalised Nepalese male migrant workers to explore their context and design actions to address their problem themselves. My research also explores the scope of internet-based HIV prevention for hard to reach communities such as Nepalese migrant workers who are based in more than 150 nations.”
Supervised by Dr Cath Conn and Dr Tineke Water, Til’s research will contribute to the body of knowledge on migrant workers, HIV prevention and the scope of the internet to address HIV and other health issues among hard to reach communities.
Tackling global challenges
Expecting to complete his PhD in 2020, Til is plannning to take his newfound knowledge back home to Nepal to support his country and community.
“My parents, who never enrolled in any formal education, always encouraged us to get a qualification and a better quality of life. This inspires me to do something for my country and people. Once I finish my PhD, I’m planning to start working for Nepal and the community I completed my research on.
“I can also see myself involved in supporting minority communities around the world with my knowledge, skills and experience achieved during my doctoral journey at AUT.”
He would strongly recommend AUT’s public health programmes to other students, Til says.
“The programme I’m in is full of global opportunities, especially in third world countries like mine. Public health problems are global challenges, even though they may occur in different forms in different countries and communities. A lot of things still need to be done to improve quality of life globally, and AUT is the best place to gain a qualification and skills in this field.”
Creating world-ready graduates
There have been many highlights throughout Til’s studies at AUT.
“AUT is a growing university that in a short span of time has secured a space in the national and international market, producing high-quality skilled graduates for the global market. AUT, like a bowl of salad with multinational students, has been a great space to learn about the global community and the range of public health problems communities face.”
He found that AUT was always ready to help students, Til says.
“My supervisors motivated me during the ups and downs in my PhD journey, which included two major unexpected incidents. In 2015, two months into my PhD, a massive earthquake shook Nepal and affected my family back home. Later in the same year, I got a call from home that my dad had a heart attack and needed open-heart bypass surgery. Thus, I had to go back home to be with family. I wouldn’t be here again if AUT and my supervisors hadn’t helped me.
“At the beginning of my third year, I also went through a financial nightmare. Fortunately, my supervisors trusted me and arranged support through the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences hardship fund.”