I find it very appropriate that my trip to Indonesia was bookended by goats. A little more than two years ago, I wrote my master’s thesis at the University of Montana on international community development, focusing particularly on women’s roles. That interest meant the Goats for Widows program was what initially drew me to Health In Harmony. Though my appreciation now extends to each of ASRI’s programs, last Tuesday, standing in the road outside of Pak Rapi’s house (a local village leader), I remembered that original excitement, and it added to the joy of seeing smiles on the faces of eight women collecting their new kambing.
My first day on site at ASRI was six weeks ago, and Erica immediately packed my jet-lagged self onto the back of her motorbike bound for Air Pau, Sukadana’s eastern neighbor – though at the time I could neither determine which way was east, nor even pronounce the name of the village. We sat on the floor eating bright green cakes and listening to Jili explain the ins and outs of raising goats to the group of eight widows.
Tuesday, with two days left in Sukadana, I went back to the now-familiar Air Pau [AY-er PAH-ooh] and saw the same widows receive their goats, purchased with generous donations from supporters like you. Immediately, Ibu Julia motioned me over to sit with her and happily showed me the ropes she had brought to tie up her new goat. I grinned back at her and remembered the specific questions the widows asked six weeks ago about what kinds of rope to use for tethering. Ibu Julia is the midwife in Air Pau, a job she has performed since 1978. Erica and I couldn’t believe she was nervous about delivering baby goats after so many years of successfully delivering children, but she promised us it was different enough to scare her, although she felt much more prepared after the day’s training. Midwifery can also be random and unpredictable work, so Ibu Julia was excited about raising goats to add regular activity to her days and help her build her savings for future medical expenses at the clinic.
This simple interaction with someone actively engaged in changing the course of her community and forest was my highlight. In my weeks on site at ASRI, I had the privilege to talk with patients in the clinic, Forest Guardians, local tour guides, ASRI Kids students, volunteers, doctors and other staff members. I saw the change you are creating firsthand: trees planted, disease treated, lives and ecosystems changed. I can only tell you about the warmth in my heart as I finally sat knee-to-knee with the people I have been working for over the last ten months, but I hope to share it with you, the people making change happen, in the next weeks and months.
If you haven’t already, please like our Facebook page, where I will post more stories of your impact in Indonesia coming every day from our staff and donors on site right now.
Those of you reading this are the people making the incredibly important work at Health In Harmony and ASRI possible. Thank you. All those conversations I had pointed to the incredible gains from the last seven years in West Kalimantan: the communities are seeing change and are ready to work together with ASRI to conserve more, plant more, grow more. It was powerful to see, and I am so grateful to you for making it happen.
We are working to keep the Health In Harmony Facebook page as well as this blog overflowing in April and May with stories, pictures, interviews, blogs and more from the donor Journey to ASRI.
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