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Today is my daughter’s birthday. Just as it did 24 years ago, it is snowing in Washington, DC. Instead of giving my presentation at the Woodrow Wilson Center on the Five Year Survey, the day unfolds quietly and offers a time for reflection on this east coast swing.
As I’m wondering what wonderful friend of HIH, or inspiring meeting, or extraordinary dinner to write about this chilled morning – there are so, so many -- I open the Washington Post to this article: “Web project charts global health woes.” (David Brown) And I read a quote from Bill Gates at the bottom: “I was completely stunned by the burden of disease in poor countries…. To see that diarrhea was killing literally millions of children, and that some of those causes of diarrhea, like rotavirus are preventable….” And I thought to myself, “Bill, you haven’t see Health In Harmony and our partner ASRI in action! I realize in saying that one must be careful given the worldwide virulence of rotavirus, but that's not really the point.
The point is this: like at no other time in the past year, do I more completely appreciate Health In Harmony’s integrated, sustainable model and ASRI’s most exquisite rendering of that model in its people and programs on Borneo in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. This has been brought home to me in so many ways from the faces and stories of the people I’ve met and places I’ve been on this trip to spending many hours tucked in the southeast corner of my cousin’s quiet home in Weston, CT working on the Woodrow Wilson International Center presentation on the Five Year Survey. It’s one thing to go through and digest the 88-card PowerPoint deck available on the website – much good information can be gleaned from that treasure trove and I encourage our HIH and ASRI friends to spend time with it. It’s another though to imagine how you will present this to and inspire an audience of 200 in 20 minutes.
Many hours later, I am click-clacking on the Eastern Regional Amtrak Train bound for Washington DC when I met Darian Gray (dynamicliveband.com) , the drummer for the legendary Booker T band (bookert.com). “What is it you do?” he asked. I launched into our story (and blurted out, “would Booker T do a benefit for us – one just never knows!). When I finished I not only had made a new friend, I understood in a new way, the power of this model, of this idea of health in harmony. That night at the renovated Howard Theater in WDC, I got to hear the closing set of Booker T, it was his song I Love You. It was a fitting end to the day and time spent with our story.
I think we have much to learn from The Global Burden of Disease project led by Christopher J.I. Murray, a physician and economist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. And I think we too now have something of great value to offer in return: the story and the success of Health In Harmony’s partner ASRI. Check it out: Disease symptoms that read like a who-is-who of the rotavirus family were significantly down among the 1465 households surveyed in West Kalimantan in the three months before the 2012 survey. Now to scale up and grow our vision.
In growing our vision, we cannot forget the programs that are responsible for being able to tell our story or the staff that makes all those programs and funding for sharing our story possible. If you haven’t already, please become a sustaining member of Health In Harmony and help us grow solutions to global health, thoughtfully, intentionally. Want to experience ASRI in person? Join us for a two-week journey to West Kalimantan and Bali in Spring 2014.