Looking Forward, Looking Back: 5 Years with ASRI

Guest blog by Antonia Gorog

Imagine! Since 2007, there have been 23,000 patients visits at Klinik ASRI, and another 1700 patients seen in remote villages via our mobile clinic; the Forest Guardian program was launched; 250 organic farm trainings have led to the establishment of over a dozen organic farming cooperatives; 71 goats have been distributed to 44 widows; 42 acres are actively being reforested; and, 25 children participated in the inaugural ASRI Kids program - providing a poignant link to the future for all.

Thank you for your generous gifts that have made these achievements, and more, possible. The July 2012 newsletter is devoted to sharing this amazing story and Health In Harmony’s great appreciation and open invitation to continue to support our work.

Here, we reprint Program Director Toni Gorog's story of Day One, and share photographs from 2007 and 2012:

July 13, 2007

Dear Friends,

June was incredibly busy, incredibly fun, and incredibly successful for Health In Harmony…. Klinik ASRI opened! It rained the whole night before…but the morning of the grand opening the sun came out, the air was fresh, the gibbons were singing.

We arrived early. Teams rushed around in a frenzy to sweep, set up rows of chairs, and tie up loose ends. I found Kinari in her formal kebaya kneeling in the back courtyard to straighten pots of flowering plants and pick candy wrappers left by the construction workers out of the flower beds. Such dedication, and not a wrinkle in her sarong!

Finally, everything was ready. Blue and yellow tents were up, the chairs in neat rows, and the food tables decorated and ready to set with the feast. The red ribbon was hung with pretty bows across the front porch, each end attached to a rolling IV pole. Not exactly traditional, but fitting.

In accordance with the national custom of jam karet ("rubber time"), 99% of the guests had not yet arrived at ten, but by 10:30 the guests were flooding in. Men came in batik party shirts and the village kids were in their best clothes, some of the little girls even in frilly dresses.

We began with a welcome from Dr. Hotlin and then speeches by Dr. Romi and Kinari. Appreciation was extended to various officials who had been helpful. The then-head of Gunung Palung National Park gave a touching speech. There was not the slightest bit of nitpicking by anyone! We took this as an indication that we had done a good job raising public and government support for our program. During the Q&A, some of the questions came from village women. To those unfamiliar with Indonesian culture, it is truly noteworthy when a village woman asks a question at a public gathering in front of dozens of male government officials. We were so pleased, and took lots of time to answer their questions clearly.

After the presentations, it was time for the ribbon-cutting. Using a pair of medical scissors, Pak Baktiar (a local government official) sliced the ribbon. All 200+ guests got a tour of the clinic, then it was time to eat. Will (one of the nurses) played guitar and Dr. Hotlin blew everyone away with her fabulous singing voice while the guests lined up to fill their plates. The rendang (beef) was rich and tender, the acar (a salad of cucumbers and carrots and chilis) was fresh and spicy, and everything else—several vegetable dishes, fish, a noodle and mushroom soup, sweet desserts—was delicious. Everyone had plenty to eat and lots of the neighbors went home with packages of leftovers.

We stood to shake everyone's hand as the guests left. Exhausted but happy, we said goodbye to several hundred friends, some new and some whom we've known for a decade. It was, without a doubt, a successful and fun event.

Salam hangat (Warm wishes) from Indonesia,


About Antonia Gorog

Antonia served as Health In Harmony's Program Director in the early years and helped get ASRI off the ground.


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