MHHA: Who are you?
SM: My name is Sasheenie Moodley.
MHHA: In what part of the world do you work?
SM: I mainly work in peri-urban South African townships. Most recently, I have worked in Botshabelo township in the Free State province.
MHHA: What is your area of interest or expertise?
SM: I am interested in HIV/AIDS, and the various lived experiences associated with this disease. Most recently, I have worked with HIV-positive pregnant teenagers in Botshabelo. This work is the foundation of my DPhil/PhD at the University of Oxford. My research explores what pregnancy, and in turn motherhood, means to pregnant teenagers and their families.
MHHA: Who funds your work?
SM: My research and studies are funded by the Rotary International Foundation, Stapley Trust, Gilchrist Trust, and Wolfson College at Oxford.
MHHHA: Please tell us about your recent project.
SM: My most recent - and current - research is for my PhD. The purpose of this research is to understand how some HIV-positive pregnant teenagers experience HIV, pregnancy, and motherhood in the social world that is Botshabelo. My dissertation tells a story about teenage girls’ experiences using narrative inquiry. My research and studies are funded by the Rotary International Foundation, Stapley Trust, Gilchrist Trust, and Wolfson College at Oxford. I am extremely grateful to these organisations (thank you!).
MHHA: What about your work makes your smile?
SM: There are moments during fieldwork when I am lucky enough to feel – and not just hear – someone’s story. These kinds of moments profoundly impact the way I have come to see the world, and my work. Reflecting, and recounting, these moments makes me smile.
MHHA: What are the challenges of your work?
SM: It is difficult to find ‘balance’ between research, relationships, writing, analysing, and learning. This is a messy journey – and it should be. I work hard to find joy in the journey, although I am propelling myself to a final destination.
MHHA: What are three positive things you/your team has achieved in the last year?
SM: One, I learned how to make mushroom carbonara successfully (a huge achievement indeed for someone who burns water). Two, I completed my fieldwork in 2019. Three, I budgeted ‘enough’ money for chocolate and coffee.
MHHA: What advice would you give to a mentee aspiring to join your field?
SM: I picked up two salient notions during my PhD. I have them pinned to my desktop, and reflect on them every day: “Celebrate the firsts with the lasts. Have courage and kindness.”
MHHA: What do you hope to be doing in 5 years? Where will you be?
SM: In five years…I hope to be working on post-doc ethnographic research with the same group of inspiring teenagers I am working with now.