My personal interests in the public health field stem from international health inequality and its consequences to the people suffering from lack of health resources. Born in an impoverished household living in a mud-brick home in Afghanistan and raised in the sunny skies of California, I never once looked back to my motherland and actually appreciated that I survived the first five most important years in a country that lacks fundamental facilities and professionals to keep its population alive and well. Only last year, however, I learned that hospitals and midwives are very rare in villages of Afghanistan and that pregnant women must travel ten days by foot to deliver their baby. Therefore, not only women experience adversities in their health throughout their lives but also their children suffer from illnesses, if they even survive, thus making Afghanistan the number one country in infant mortality rate.
Only a few weeks ago, it was discovered that my cousin gave birth to a severely underweight baby boy who had Spina Bifida due to little prenatal care and suffered from a lack of bone strength for him to ever walk. My cousin did not have the education nor the means to travel and obtain care for herself and her child. This example is personal to me, but it is only one of the cases prevalent in every corner of the globe. To have been born in Afghanistan and in these circumstances and to be able to write about them at this moment has inspired me and sparked an interest in me to pursue the root of health inequality of the world and make a difference first hand.
Having been a first-generation child from my family to go away to college, I surely faced obstacles along the way that made me believe time and again that my dreams were unreachable. From being called a “terrorist” for wearing a headscarf to having teachers question whether I was allowed to wear henna on my hands, I was never able to feel safe at school and even thought about altogether quitting my dreams of going into college and pursuing public health. When I would come home from school and escape the loudness of the hatred and discrimination that surrounded me, I would instead be immersed with the loudness of crying babies in my house and the demands of my household chores.
However, despite all of the obstacles and endeavors throughout my school career, I finally realized that my education and my degree in public health can mean that I can bring about positive and effective methods of controlling health disparities. I am motivated to return to Afghanistan to conduct research on the staggering numbers to raise awareness of the rising health inequalities and bring about more medical opportunities, resources and education so that others, like my cousin, do not have to go far to obtain treatment.
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