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At Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), we believe that the communities we work with are the best solvers of their own problems, and it is our job to listen to them and help them find solutions. And listening is not something we do only once - it is a continuous process the helps us constantly refine our programs. So on January 15th, ASRI held radical listening meetings with villages around Gunung Palung National Park.
Over the course of a few days, we conducted radical listening meetings with the villages of Sejahtera, Sedahan Jaya, and Harapan Mulia. Many people attended each meeting, including community leaders and each village's Forest Guardian.
During each of the meetings, ASRI posed two questions:
How do you feel about the work ASRI has done over the last 10 years?
What can we do to reach people be healthy and protect our environment?
From the meetings we gathered that overall, the communities are happy with ASRI's efforts and thankful for the support they've received through programs like the Chainsaw Buyback and Goats for Widows. They also offered suggestions, such as offering 24-hour health care services and conducting more outreach to better educate community members about ASRI's incentive-based payment system at the hospital and the free monthly eyeglass distributions.
Community members in Sedahan Jaya (where one of our reforestation sites is located) said that the reforestation project helped them because it helped revitalize the forest and provided them with jobs. They hoped for more opportunities to work on reforestation projects in the future.
In Sejahtera, a woman asked if their village could have seedlings to plant durian, rambutan, and cempedak trees. When we asked why, she said, "So our grandchildren can enjoy the crops."
In our last meeting, we spoke to Mr. Yansha, a former logger who told us, "In order to protect the forest, people must be prosperous, so they don't have to illegally log to make money. We also want to live, be healthy, provide food for our families, and make sure our children get education."