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Dear friends of Health In Harmony,
I just got back from a wonderful seven weeks in Kalimantan and I want to thank you all for helping make the hospital possible. Because of visa issues, I had not actually been back since November when the ASRI team officially moved into the building. So for me, the last time I saw the building was in the first week of the team using it.
But after nine months, the team has moved in so wonderfully and it feels like the building has been infused with the love that is given to patients daily. There is also a real palpable sense of having come into our own. A sense that our crazy idea of combining human and environmental health is now solid fact and proven success. While I was there we also got the 10 year survey data back and it showed an 89% drop in illegal logging! Now there are an estimated 150 logging households remaining (down from an initial estimate of 1,350 logging households). But that was in February and since then we have bought 13 chainsaws through ASRI's new Chainsaw Buyback program and our Forest Guardians are counting 140 active loggers through their village monitoring.
And at the same time, we are daily saving lives in the hospital. The building isn’t actually 100% complete yet — more like 99.5%. The contractor is still finishing up a few final items on the building, and as a result we have not yet opened the operating rooms or all the in-patient beds. But we are already seeing emergency patients, the lab is doing tests every day, we have a dental x-ray (and are in the process of buying a standard x-ray), the dental clinic is crammed full, four in-patients bed are open, babies are being delivered (more than 10 to date!), and we are seeing many more clinic patients daily.
We do have one problem, which is that Dr. Willi, who is currently completing his OB-GYN residency (with our donor's support!) will return for a five-year commitment to ASRI, and will be done in April 2018. The issue is that the government recently passed a law that all specialists have to serve in a rural area for one year, but rather than being able to choose where they go, the specific location is of the governments choosing. It’s frustrating that he may not be able to come back to ASRI right away given that there is a population around Gunung Palung of 120,000 people who do not have access to c-sections. Luckily, we have friends in high places and they will be putting in letters for an exemption for us.
Please wish us luck that we will get the exemption, get all the necessary permits, and purchase all the equipment in time for those letters to be written. We will need to raise an additional $300,000 for all the operating room equipment and would be most grateful for any contributions towards that!
And thank you all again for making this building possible. One of the things that I love most is that this building will be a place to train people to do similar work all over the world. And already that is happening! While I was there a team from Katingan (in Central Kalimantan) came to learn about our successful alternative agriculture training, the Chainsaw Buyback program, and how to institute community-wide incentives for protecting the forest.
Health In Harmony is scheduling more teams to visit as well, including two in March and July that you can join (click here to learn more about the Journey to Borneo). And we are just about to conduct the baseline survey to start working around another national park that is also in West Kalimantan called Bukit Baka Bukit Raya. Like around Gunung Palung, people are logging there to pay for health care. With your help, we are creating a world where no one has to choose between their health today and their health tomorrow.
Check out all the pictures below! Thank you so much for making this possible. We couldn’t have done it without all of your support!