Keep ASRI's Doctors in School

In Indonesia, doctors must pay to complete their medical residency, creating a wide gap between those who can afford specialized training and those who cannot. Not only is this an inequitable system, but it means that rural areas are often void of skilled doctors. A small group of Health In Harmony donors has already given $110,000 to three former ASRI doctors currently completing their residencies. These doctors plan to return to ASRI and serve as required specialists in the Community Hospital and Training Center for five years. But they need $74,000 to finish their education. You can help keep them in school with a donation today.

Below, we share the stories of these three doctors.

Dr. Nur Bunawan


Dear Health In Harmony supporters,

Right now, I’ve finished my first year and a half of medical residency and am graduating to the next level, the intermediate resident. Last year, as a junior resident, was the most difficult year in internal medicine because we had a night shift every 3 days, followed by ward shift. You start at 5am and finish around 6pm, sometimes working for 36 hours straight. Not to mention all of the paperwork we need to finish. Most of the time, we had too much to do with limited time and energy.

But throughout it all, I enjoyed my time as a junior resident - it was the time when I felt really attached to my patients. I could sit next to my patient for an hour, gathering information about their personal life, and learning about their values and perspective towards their illness. This is important because in internal medicine, we are most often dealing with chronic/terminal cases, such as advanced stage cancer, diabetes or hypertension, auto-immune conditions such as Lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. An immediate cure is not an option and these patients must deal with their illness every single day.

People asked me, "why would you spend an extra hour listening to a patient’s life when you can rest instead?" I got the answer from an attending I followed during my observership in the US (made possible by Health In Harmony's donors) several years ago. He was a kind, wonderful, and dedicated internist.One thing that really impressed me is that he spent extra time each day listening to his patients after office hours. Several times, I saw him sitting next to the patient in the evening, discussing their personal life. I think this is a profound lesson.

Every doctor could simply treat a patient with diabetes and a leg ulcer by giving them antibiotics and medication or doing an operation on an unhealthy wound. But without knowing why he got a leg ulcer, why he didn’t want to take his blood glucose medication; why he would choose to use “snail” therapy (literally putting a snail on my patient’s wound) instead of debridement, then he will certainly develop another leg ulcer, be hospitalized again and again, or develop a life-threatening complication like diabetic ketoacidosis. We can only understand by listening to the patient. Listening to our patients will lead us to the root problem.

Every time I feel overloaded and overwhelmed I remind myself that this too shall pass, and that all this work is for one goal: A better community health system at the ASRI Clinic, a better planet. And those difficult times really have passed. One great part of my junior resident graduation was they were really impressed with my EKG skills. They were wondering where I learned how to read an EKG because I got the highest score among my classmates. It is thanks to Dr. Rastegar and Dr. White from Yale, Dr. Ewen Wang from Stanford, Dr. Kinari Webb from ASRI's Clinic, and Health In Harmony supporters for my 4-month observership experience in the US. Those 4 months really changed my life forever. Now I am ready for the next level: intermediate resident. Thank you for all of your support.

Warm regards,

Nur Chandra Bunawan

Dr. Willy Wahono


Dr. Willy just started his fourth year of residency in OB/GYN, learning about everything from gynecology to oncology. He is getting trained in performing surgical procedures, an invaluable resource in ASRI's Community Hospital and Training Center, which will be equipped with a Maternity Ward and NICU to handle birth emergencies. Dr. Willy says that becoming an OB/GYN has been part of the plan for many years, "Obstetrics and Gynecology has been my dream since I was in medical school. With Indonesia's current health care system, there is high mortality and morbidity among mothers. I really want to help to reduce that number."

Dr. Willy will finish his residency in June 2018. He is thrilled to soon return to ASRI, an organization that taught him so much, "ASRI is like gold: pure and priceless. During my time there, I not only learned medical skills, but it also opened my mind and changed my way of thinking about keeping people healthy. It’s about maintaining a healthy environment. Providing good health care, building communication, and teamwork are all of ASRI's strengths. At ASRI we are not like coworkers, we are more like family."

Dr. Ron Natawidjaja


Why do you want to be a doctor?

Dr. Ron: I don't want a job that benefits by hurting others. As a doctor, if we cure or save our patient, the satisfaction of seeing their happiness cannot be paid by any material available on this Earth.

Why do you want to go back to ASRI?

Because ASRI has a vision and mission that is different from the way many people think nowadays - which is to take the benefits from our mother Earth. In contrast, ASRI stands up against the mainstream and reverses what we have done to our planet by finding the connection between health and the environment. ASRI does this in a unique way that gives love and care by providing good health care in a sustainable way, which has dramatically decreased logging in Gunung Palung National Park.

Why do you want to do surgery?

All medical doctors can help their patients by examining them, making a correct diagnosis, and giving them medication. But as a surgeon, we can use our scalpel to manage the patients hands-on, from beginning until definitive treatment, and see the outcome. Also, we don't have a surgeon in the North Kayong District, and ASRI needs a surgeon!


A small group of Health In Harmony donors has generously gotten Nur, Ron, and Willy through the beginning of their residencies, but they need your help to keep going. Without $74,000 to cover their tuition and living expenses, they will be unable to finish their programs, and will not be able to serve in ASRI's hospital. Will you invest in ASRI's doctors and keep them in school to complete training that will save lives for years to come?


About Darya Minovi | View all posts by Darya Minovi

Darya is the Communications and Outreach Manager at Health In Harmony, based in Portland, OR. After studying Public Health and Environmental Policy at the College of William and Mary, Darya knew she wanted to dedicate her career to protecting human and environmental health. When she's not at work, you can find Darya enjoying the great outdoors, exploring Portland's farmers markets, or watching live music.