Guest blog by Maggie Gumbinner
I’m often asked why I choose to spend my free time working for Health In Harmony from the many good organizations and causes out there. But, it all became very clear to me one day on the Journey to Borneo last year during a hike through Gunung Palung National Park.
In some ways, the rain forest itself reminded me of hikes through some of my favorite wilderness areas in West Virginia with the path following a quiet stream with the occasional waterfall. But while it did remind me of the forests back home in some ways, there were constant reminders that this place was different – huge trees wider than my arms could reach, twisty vines hanging from the tall canopy, and the sounds of exotic birds and monkeys. At one point, some people in our group got a quick glimpse of two orangutans before they swung through the branches above and out of our sight. These were all constant reminders of why protecting these forests is so important.
After stopping to eat lunch, we headed on to an overlook that looked out over the valley below. The view was amazing. Not because of the mountains in the distance, but because we had the perfect view of a rain forest corridor that has been reforested thanks to the work of Health In Harmony and ASRI. Before the reforestation work in this area began in 2012, there was no way for orangutans and other wildlife to travel between the two parts of the National Park. So, we converted a rice field back to forest. While the trees are still maturing, there is now enough cover for orangutans and other wildlife to travel between the two sections, which is critical for them to be able to survive.
That view is why I am such a big supporter of Health In Harmony. Look what we have done together in just five years to protect our planet! And, best of all, we have done it by listening to the local community and working with them hand-in-hand. Health In Harmony is only 10 years old. Imagine what we can do in the next 10 years as we work to replicate this work in other areas of the world.
If you have the opportunity, I would encourage you to join the Journey to Borneo to see this amazing work for yourself! If you are interested in learning more, please contact amy [at] healthinharmony.org.
About Maggie Gumbinner
Maggie has been a member of the Health In Harmony Board of Directors since 2013 and currently serves as the Board Vice President. She currently lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two daughters.