Wow! It’s been ten years since Health In Harmony started. I still find that very hard to believe. Ten years ago in February, Cam Webb (currently ASRI's Conservation Advisor) and I were in Aceh helping after the tsunami and we were horrified to see not only the trauma, but how few of the non-profits were listening to communities.
I came back and called a good friend, Julia Riseman, in despair, “How could I ever work for any of these organizations? Not only do they not listen to the communities, but none of them see that human health and environmental health are totally intertwined. They just do one or the other.”
And Julia, said, “Kinari, we are going to start our own and it will be founded on the principle that the best solutions will always come from the communities that are experiencing a problem.”
Thank goodness I listened to her and thank goodness people came out of the woodwork to support us with time, money, great ideas, and love. Thank you all! Together we have seen a remarkable ten years and I am so grateful to all the people who have come together all over the planet to make it possible.
Today I spoke with a young man who has been working on conservation for years in Indonesia but who become very disillusioned. He said the models he’d seen were to try and convince people that if they changed their behavior, they would get benefits from conservation. He told me how excited he was to see that Health In Harmony recognizes what he had seen, that without up-front benefits people are forced to destroy the environment in order to get access to things like health care. They fully understand that protecting the environment is in their long-term best interest, but if their child is sick what choice do they have?
Now he has decided to go to medical school, and he told me how happy he was that Health In Harmony has shown him that he can do both health care and conservation and in fact, that by combining the two, both will benefit.
I told him, that he might very well have a job when he finishes medical school – working for Health In Harmony, starting other sites!
Thank you all for saving lives, saving rain forest, and helping inspire another generation of young people who see how interconnected all of our well-being is.
Sending gratitude to you all,