What is ASRI?: A tribute

Guest blog by Josh Fleming

Josh and Etty pose with ASRI Kids.

Josh and Etty pose with ASRI Kids.

So what is ASRI? I find myself contemplating this question upon arriving back home from my time spent away. Trying to properly convey to myself or furthermore others not having been a witness to the beauty and scope of ASRI, is no simple feat in itself. It is hard to easily define and put into words ASRI’s full magnitude and the breadth of complexities of this intricately designed program, but I wish to be so bold and try to articulate the essence of what I believe ASRI to be in my most humble opinion.

ASRI is not your typical NGO or charitable operation, so placing it into a predefined category will not do; it is therefore to say that they are engaged in an innovative from of integrative capacity building within the space between both humanitarian and environmental work. ASRI is better stated as art in motion, a painting or an original piece of artistic expression that defies any known genre, utilizing multiple fields of study and cross-disciplined expertise, creating a holistic palette to draw forth the color that brushes and illustrates their skillful and unique approach to treating both human and environmental health as a whole. Moreover ASRI could also be defined as a creative patchwork of collective threads interwoven to form a seamless orchestration of holistic integrative healthcare, reminiscent of the same woven baskets that are exchanged daily, in the form of a gift exchange, within the clinic for patient services rendered.

It is the core or foundation of ASRI, the staff and volunteers that uphold the most sincere interest and devotion towards comprehensive care, while treating both the patient and their environment synergistically.

Forest giant near ASRI in Borneo

Photo: Deepa Agashe

The extended team of ASRI and their volunteer’s function like a single unified cell, forming a protective sheath with a familiar, comforting or family like atmosphere and a depth of trust and friendship holding there multiple operations in place. Since ASRI’s inception they have been forging a bioculturally diverse ecosystem of community relations and alliances, mirroring the systems within the same biologically rich rainforests that they wish to protect. ASRI’s roots extend outward from the doors of their humble clinic to the rest of the surrounding villages, merging with the ancient roots of the majestic forests that surround Sukadana, balancing on the edge of our equatorial line. The staff at ASRI devotes their full attention and time to their daily work, keeping their doors forever open to the total needs of the many diversified communities they serve. I believe that ASRI's model should, can and will, in time be replicated in other developing areas, but should also not be overlooked, to its present worth in utilizing its proven methods in currently developed areas throughout our world, as an efficient model for Global Sustainable Health.

Our individual health and that of our surrounding environments in of the natural world are co-dependent on many levels, both seen and unseen. If only our perspectives and attitudes are slightly shifted we could see that caring for our personal health, is caring for that of our environment and caring for our environment, is caring for ourselves. It is this yin and yang that hangs currently in improper balance throughout much of the world today. The Tao or philosophy of ASRI is working to bring back this balance to the people and the forests of Southern Borneo. I have been truly inspired by the culture of ASRI and the work that is currently being done and hope to see that their efforts continue to expand and envelop others, forever changing the lives of communities and their environments within our interconnected world. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this program and for welcoming me into the family of ASRI.


About Josh Fleming

Josh Fleming visited ASRI in 2013 to learn more about our work for his upcoming project, Carry The Stone (CTS). CTS donates medical supplies from hospitals to the ASRI Clinic for free.


About Kelsey Hartman | View all posts by Kelsey Hartman

Kelsey is the Communications and Marketing Associate at Health In Harmony, based in Portland, OR.