Happy 10th Birthday, ASRI!

Thanks to so many donors, supporters, and friends, our flagship partner ASRI celebrated their 10th anniversary on July 13th. To mark this incredible occasion, ASRI hosted an open house and festival on hospital grounds. 

ASRI celebrates their 10th anniversary on July 13th // photo: Sara Helms

The open house included a hospital tour, organic farming and alternative livelihood information booths, ASRI Teens conservation demonstrations, field games, door prizes, and even an orangutan-themed photo booth. Engaging the community is what makes ASRI successful, and their continued efforts to raise awareness and support community-led conservation inspire still more growth and hope for the future.

Alternative livelihood information booths during ASRI’s open house showcase programs such organic farming which help community members break the cycle of illegal logging dependency // photo: Sara Helms

Ten years ago we asked communities around Gunung Palung National park what they needed in order to stop logging. They asked for affordable health care and training in organic farming. We listened, and after a decade of providing affordable, high-quality health care, launching alternative livelihood programs to break the cycle of logging dependency, reforesting devastated sites within Gunung Palung National Park, and providing conservation education programs for people of all ages, we see definite results.

ASRI has become an integral, trusted part of the community in Kayong Utara. Originally employing just seven people in a small rented clinic space, the organization has grown to employ over 100 dedicated health care and conservation experts and has built a new Community Hospital and Training Center, which will become a hub for Planetary Health training. From its original two programs, ASRI has expanded to encompass four overarching conservation program areas, in addition to specialized clinic projects such as DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment Short course for Tuberculosis patients).

ASRI’s community involvement sets them apart from other conservation NGOs // photo: Sara Helms

Their success extends far beyond community enrichment. In the decade since ASRI’s opening, their clinic has served more than 70,000 patients. ASRI’s conservation team has planted over 120,000 trees and restored vital orangutan corridors within Gunung Palung National Park. In addition to the new CHTC building, ASRI has expanded its facilities to include an Organic Farming Training Center, as well as a private reforestation site.

ASRI Executive Director Monica Nirmala // photo: Sara Helms

Today, I met with ASRI’s Executive Director, drg. Monica Nirmala, to discuss her hopes for the future of the organization. “You could fill ten pages with my hopes,” she said, alight with enthusiasm about ASRI’s potential. “It’s exciting because we are the model for the Planetary Health concept.”

Looking forward to the next ten years, she identified four hot spots for growth and development:

  • In the next year, ASRI will become the first fully-operational hospital in Kayong Utara, providing wider services to the community such as expanded maternity services, surgeries, radiology, more robust lab capabilities, and a greater capacity in general through their large, modern facilities.
  • ASRI is taking steps to become an international training center in response to interest in their model. By building more structured curricula for visitors in collaboration with Health In Harmony and partnering with local NGOs and universities such as Universitas Tanjung Pura in Pontianak, ASRI will continue to grow as a hub of Planetary Health knowledge sharing.
  • As ASRI grows, it will become stronger internally. By developing proven management and human resources systems, continuing to hire passionate employees, and empowering the community, ASRI is investing in its future. Dedicated ASRI Teens may one day return as ASRI doctors, cultivating local talent instead of importing specialists from Java and Sumatra.
  • Replication of the ASRI model is on the horizon. Whatever it looks like, the Sukadana team will be involved in the process, either as teachers or pioneers. After surveying a number of different sites, they are looking forward to extending ASRI’s reach in the greater Planetary Health movement.

ASRI’s success is a direct result of your generous support. We thank you for an amazing decade of healing people and the planet and look forward to an even brighter future.

 

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About Sara Helms | View all posts by Sara Helms

Sara is Health In Harmony's on-site Partnership Coordinator. She is based at our partner Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.