Clare Wolfowitz, September's Volunteer Focus

Introduced to what would become the backbone of her life’s work, Clare Wolfowitz first experienced Indonesia as a 16-year old student-participant in AFS (formerly the American Field Service). Her destination, Jogjakarta, located in Central Java, a “beautiful, old city” that captured her intellectual, spiritual and anthropological curiosity.

Clare with homestay sister Rini in Jogjakarta, 1962.

Clare with homestay sister Rini in Jogjakarta, 1962.

Her homestay father was a doctor who served as head of a major hospital, while also running a clinic for those who couldn’t otherwise afford high-quality healthcare. “It was an amazing, amazing experience that made such an impression on me,” Clare said. “And I’ve been giving back ever since.” She and Rini, her homestay sister, remain lifelong friends.

Clare in Jakarta, 1989.

Clare in Jakarta, 1989.

 

It was not until 25 years later, though, Clare returned to Indonesia. This time, with the credentials of a woman who made the study of Javanese language the subject of her doctoral dissertation and as the wife of the Indonesian ambassador. Word spread in the weeks prior to their arrival: the wife of ambassador was someone who sincerely cared about Indonesia.

And they were right. In 2010, Clare was elected to the Health In Harmony Board after her son David spent a month at ASRI and urged her to connect with Kinari on her east coast tour. “I went to hear her talk,” Clare said, “that’s all you have to do, and you’re hooked.” From that moment on she “made a pest of herself” and “they put me on the Board.” Upon joining the Board, Clare put her passionate energy to work and one of her first projects was to frame and submit a proposal to Dining for Women (DFW) in support of Goats of Widows – and this month it is DFW’s featured program!

Clare with Kinari in Sukadana, 2012.

Clare with Kinari in Sukadana, 2012.

Last February, Clare returned to Indonesia where she met co-founder and director of ASRI, Hotlin Ompusunggu, in Jakarta. Although ill in the days prior to arriving at ASRI, once there, she said, “I got better and loved it. I loved the sounds of the chickens, meeting with widows, their children and goats and finally getting to see Kinari again. I loved attending morning meeting where everyone from drivers to nurses to doctors are welcome and all wear the same batik uniform shirts making no outward distinctions in roles or status. I love the cows and the composting process – it doesn’t smell bad, I realized standing right there in the shed where it was being made. I just loved being there.”

It is from that place of love and her great stores of energy that Clare sources her passion and dedication to Health In Harmony’s goal: Saving Rainforests with a Stethoscope.

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About Rosevan Vickery | View all posts by Rosevan Vickery

Rosevan is the Administrative Associate at Health In Harmony, based in Portland, OR.