5 Questions with Sivantha Hul
Our monthly check-in with staff from around the world. Learn more about the people who work at CHAI.
Please tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to CHAI.
I was originally a high school teacher but was always passionate about working with an NGO that could minimize gaps in education and health – in particular, HIV. I chose to work on HIV for a big reason – my most beloved one died of AIDS because he refused to get antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.
Several years after his death, I went back to school and graduated from the University of Melbourne with a master’s degree in health sciences. I came back home in 2015 with more confidence to continue working on HIV/AIDS issues. Before joining CHAI, I held several roles in HIV prevention, innovation, and research.
I joined CHAI because of my ex-colleague who was working at CHAI and thought my experiences and interests aligned with CHAI’s mission and values. So, here I am now – it’s been four years already.
I continue to work under the CHAI HIV program because I believe ARVs makes a huge difference in not just the infected individuals, but also their families and children.
1. What’s been one of your proudest moments working at CHAI?
There are many reasons to celebrate our success and contribution to the HIV national program in Cambodia. We have witnessed improvements in the quality of care and health outcomes of people living with HIV. There is improved governance and transparency from our government partners, as well as political commitment as exemplified in an increase in the national budget allocation for HIV work and HIV integration at the primary care level. However, there are still many miles to walk with the government and community of people living with HIV to sustain HIV care and treatment amid the evolving HIV epidemic.
2. What is your favorite quote of all time and why?
I am a Roman Catholic, but I like some of Buddha’s quotes too. One of my favorites is “being positive will flourish your mind and soul” – it makes me never get tired and disappointed about whatever the future brings. If we think positively, we will survive every negative situation.
3. What is your proudest accomplishment at work or in life?
I am proud of my team at CHAI. We have formed a positive working environment and built a trusting relationships with external partners and the community we serve. We are different in many ways, but two things we have in common are that we are supportive and dynamic.
4. What is the most adventurous/difficult thing you’ve ever done?
During school breaks in Australia I picked strawberries on a farm under extreme weather conditions. It would be really freezing cold in the morning but extremely hot in the afternoon in Melbourne. I thought it was fun – but it was the hardest job I have ever had. Some days, after work, I would not even be able to walk.
5. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring three things with you, what would they be and why?
I would never forget my music, make-up, and sunglasses.