If My Borneo Bracelet Breaks


Guest blog by Stella Lesmana

If my “Borneo bracelet” breaks, that’s the sign that I should visit Sukadana again.

That was my promise. Finally on February 20, 2017 I landed again in Ketapang.

My first time to Sukadana was in June 2014. I heard about ASRI from my colleague, Drg. Monica Nirmala who is ASRI's Executive Director. I came from Jakarta, arrived in Pontianak, and continued the journey to Sukadana by boat. I learned a lot at ASRI: I was handling dental patients with simple tools, teaching children in the ASRI Kids programme, and visiting rural villages with the Mobile Clinic. I visited Tanjung Puting National Park and lived in a klotok (small boat) for two days and saw orangutans. It was nice to live on the phone - they cooked delicious food and without cell phone signal, it was an escape from a crowded city.

Working with patients in 2014 and again in 2017

I also met wonderful people with kind hearts who works at ASRI and serve the community. What I miss about Sukadana are the friendly people. I always remember lunch time in the yellow house where we eat delicious food cooked by Mrs. Rasam.

When I visited Sukadana for the second time, I realized that it had grown. The road was better, the clinic was bigger! They also had a mangrove forest and a beautiful new mosque called Masjid Agung Oesman Al Khair.

Teaching ASRI Kids about dental hygiene

I came back to work with patients, but this time the ASRI Kids programme was educating primary school students about brushing teeth and I got a chance to teach them with my storybooks! I wrote storybooks for children about how to keep your teeth healthy.

I also loved riding in canoes with my friend and hanging out with other ASRI visitors on the beach while drinking coconut water. What a life! Another time, I hiked Lubuk Baji, and we reached the top, called Batu Bulan. The view was wonderful, we could see Sukadana from the top. I also got to I visit one of the reforestation sites. Unfortunately, the wooden bridge was broken so we had to get into the river to cross it (oh life in the middle of the forest!). After we reached the reforestation sites we’re so glad to see how green the forest has become again.

At the top of Lubuk Baji

At ASRI, if villagers don’t have enough money to pay for medical treatment they can pay with manure, materials to make fertilizer, helping the ASRI team to clean the clinic; or with tree seedlings. ASRI also helps villagers with other skills like farming (they have their own organic garden), engaging them to help take care of the forest.

I had a chance to see their organic garden and Jilly explained how the organic fertilizer is made. Last but not least, I joined Ibu Setiawati, the Goats for Widows Coordinator as she visited the goats. I saw her cutting their nails, give them medicine, and educating the widows.

I learned a lot from this experience. I learn to be grateful for every little thing that we have. The life in a village is much more simple than in a big city; each of us is precious and has our own ability. The happiest thing in life is when you can share your love and energy to serve other people. Sukadana and the ASRI Team will always be in my heart. I’ll be missing you all.


About Drg. Stella Lesmana

Stella is an Indonesian dentist who has conducted medical training at ASRI twice, most recently in February 2017.

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.