Humans of ASRI

Guest blog by Arvian Heidir

Meet members of the ASRI team through this beautiful photo series by supporter, Arvian Heidir.

It was late afternoon on May 15, 2017. I just arrived at the Sukadana dock from a 5-hour speedboat ride from Pontianak when two friendly smiles greeted me. It was my first time meeting Mbak Etty Rahmawati of Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) and Sara Helms of Health In Harmony (HIH) IRL (in real life). After helping me to get my bags, Pak Yusuf Hamdani, one of ASRI’s driver, drove all of us to one of the ASRI staff housing, where I would be staying for the next five days.

I was on my three-month leave of absence when I visited ASRI clinic. Although I was born and raised in Indonesia, this was my first time visiting the town of Sukadana in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. I have been living in the US for the past 20 years and working in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley, CA for the past 17.

I first learned about HIH and ASRI in February of 2014, at an event in Los Gatos, CA -- a friend had invited me to take photos at the event. Dr. Kinari Webb discussed her work to save orangutans and rainforests. I was particularly intrigued by her success in using radical listening to help ASRI come up with programs and solutions that work for the local communities. I made some donations and started following Dr. Webb’s works.

This year, I decided to get involved a little bit more. I became an Ironwood, committing myself to donate monthly, and contacted HIH’s Amy Krzyzek to visit ASRI clinic. She connected me to Mbak Etty and Martini Morris, and the three of them helped me plan my itinerary.

In Sukadana, besides touring the newly built ASRI clinic, the ASRI team was also gracious enough to take me to meet the local community as part of ASRI kitchen gardens and goats for widows programs. We also went to visit one of ASRI reforestation sites at Laman Satong.

I am glad I visited the ASRI clinic in Sukadana. Besides learning about various ASRI programs, I made a lot of friends. Every one of them is passionate about their work to save one of the lungs of our planet. One of the most memorable stories I learned is how two of the conservation staff, Pak Muhammad Yusuf (Bang Jili) and Pak Agus Supianto, decided to fund the operation of the organic farm and training center with their own money when ASRI was focusing the majority of its resources for the completion of the clinic.

I’m a proud supporter of HIH and ASRI. I encourage you to learn more about their programs, including Journey to Borneo and Goats for Widows, and join me in supporting their important work for healthy people and a healthy planet.

Below are portraits of some of the Heroes of Sukadana. These doctors, conservation staffs, and community members work hard to provide affordable healthcare in the community, prevent further deforestation, and restore Borneo’s rainforest while also improving the local economy.

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Credits: Trina Jones; Jackson Helms; Nurmilia Afriliani, MD (Dr. Nomi); Monica R. Nirmala, DDS for proofreading my draft and fact-checking my story.

 

Dr. Deo Develas, a member of the ASRI medical staff. He is a dentist and has been working with ASRI for almost a year.

 

Mak Unggal is the "pembantu" at the Boy's House. She helps clean, cooks breakfast and dinner, and does laundry for everyone living in the house. Mak Unggal has been working with ASRI for a long time, and both her son and daughter work on the conservation team.

 

Agus Supianto works with the Forest Guardians to monitor illegal logging activities around Gunung Palung National Park, using 7 indicators to measure logging activity. Agus works hard to have a good relationship with the communities and government officials. He said his experience in college as a member of MENWA -- regiment students, students with military training -- has helped him a lot in his day-to-day work, including how to manage conflicts.

 

Ibu Nur is one of the organic kitchen garden program participants. Her family and about 20 other families in the village of Tanjung Gunung were trained by the ASRI staff in organic farming. One of the members of the community is also a Forest Guardian, helping ASRI's conservation team monitor and participate in the reforestation efforts in their community.

 

Jili is responsible for the organic farming program and trains program participants in organic farming. He also manages ASRI's kitchen garden labs, located behind ASRI's hospital, where he grows kitchen gardens and makes organic fertilizer. Jili has been working for ASRI since 2007/2008. His mother, Mak Unggal, work as "pembantu" at the Boy's House.

 

Jackson Helms is a former Marine turned biologist and conservationist. He is ASRI's Conservation Director, responsible for ASRI conservation programs. His wife Sara is the Health In Harmony Partnership Coordinator. She is the only Health In Harmony staff member that works from the Sukadana site.

 

Drg. Monica is the Executive Director of ASRI. She oversees ASRI programs, the hospital, the doctors, the conservation staff, and the facilities staff.

 

Ibu Setiawati is responsible for taking care of the goats that are part of the Goats for Widows program. She visits the program participants to make sure their goats are healthy.

 

The always smiling Etty Rahmawati is an educator by training. She is on the conservation team, working very closely with the communities around Gunung Palung National Park. She teaches kids at an afterschool program (ASRI Kids) about the rain forest, the danger it is in, and conservation.

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