“Now we have hope. Now we KNOW change is possible!”
This is what one man told Kinari about his community over the last ten years. Health In Harmony has focused on data since creating a baseline survey in 2007 to monitor behavior change and health impact over time. But we haven’t figured out a way to quantify hope. We can’t quite measure how important respect, love, and commitment are to the changes we see (though we’re working on it!).
Globally, and particularly in the United States, 2017 has not felt like a hopeful year for the environment. But at Health In Harmony, we have hope for the future of our planet because we also know change is possible, we see it every day at our partner ASRI in Borneo. Here are just some of the wins you have made possible with your donations in 2017:
- An 89% decrease in logging! Both our 2017 follow-up survey and our on-the-ground monitoring confirm that in 10 years, this region saw a drop from 1,350 logging households to 150. And this is before we started buying chainsaws!
- The rain forest is re-growing! GIS data not only backs up that forest loss stabilized 10 years ago, when ASRI began, but also shows that secondary forest is increasing quickly – in part thanks to the 93 acres ASRI has planted with trees that patients bartered for health care.
- ASRI bought 24 chainsaws! Interviews with loggers showed that most were not just logging in one rain forest, but multiple, so by trading chainsaws for small business loans, ASRI is protecting Gunung Palung, and forests across Borneo. So far, not one new business has failed, and the last loggers are lining up to stop logging once and for all.
- The ASRI Community Hospital and Training Center is open! ASRI is now seeing on average twice as many patients per day as we were in the old clinic, and beautiful, healthy babies are now being born in the new building.
- Bukit Baka Bukit Raya baseline survey complete! Bukit Baka Bukit Raya (BBBR) is another national park in Borneo with a large orangutan population but severely impoverished people living on the outskirts with almost no access to high-quality health care. Logging and poaching are huge problems, as are maternal and infant mortality. We’ve just completed a baseline survey and radical listening meetings and will work with the communities toward win-win solutions.
- Scouting trips around the world! This year, Health In Harmony went to Madagascar, the Philippines, and sites around Indonesia to find other places where health of people and the environment intersect. After practicing radical listening in several new locations, we know there are other places this model will work and we’ll start more new sites soon.
- Sharing the story with new people! Kinari gave the Yale Medical School Commencement address this year and spoke at the Smithsonian, on a podcast, in Mexico, and in Sweden, introducing new audiences to this work. Health In Harmony and ASRI were also featured on Mongabay, on a popular Youtube channel, and the BBC – the more people who know about and support these projects, the more resources we have to make them better and more impactful.
2017 was full of wins for people and the planet. Just like we always say that the actions of people on the other side of the world matter to us, your actions matter to them. Your donations are a signal of hope to people protecting the rain forest in Borneo. When you spread the word about this work, you are showing you believe in them. Sharing hope across the planet that change is possible will create more and more wins for all of us in 2018.