Etty Rahmawati is ASRI’s Planetary Health Education manager. In May she visited our new site near Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park (BBBR). Etty, along with Mahardika (ASRI’s Conservation Manager), Barata (BBBR’s Conservation Coordinator), and Dr. Fitri and Dr. Rio traveled to BBBR National Park to visit the communities living alongside this critical rainforest. Today we are sharing Etty’s reflection on her visit to the park.
Hallo, My name is Etty! Just to get to the site in May we needed to fly twice (Ketapang-Pontianak-Sintang), then go two hours by car from Sintang to Nanga Pinoh (Melawi District). On the next day, We rolled across beautiful hills, and I can’t hold myself back to capture the view with my camera phone.
We visited Guhung Bajang sub-village and Mengkilau sub-village in Nusa Poring Village, Mawang satu sub-village and Bloyang sub-village in Mawang Mentatai Village. For me the fearful moment during my trip was biking to each sub-villages in muddy and bad road, but all those feelings were gone when I met children and looked their sincere eyes. They welcomed us wholeheartedly.
“Please, come here!” they call. They became my guide and accompanied me to have a tour around their village, visit a Betang traditional house, have fun in the river, and harvest guavas. I didn’t want to forget this moment, so I asked them to have selfie with me.
I was so pleased could teach them about environment and nature. They were so enthusiastic when I showed some videos and films about the environment and wild animals, like orangutans and hornbills. Then, I also trained Dewi, Vini (the midwives who live the villages) and Anius (a recently-hired nurse) about community education too. That we they can do further community education in other villages.
So many things have touched my heart on this trip, like the living conditions of community, and that they need to work hard to survive and to access the one bad road. I met many woman who are willing to carry tens of kilos of goods and walk for hours as a porter or selling their rubber latex.
My heart hurts when I know some children didn’t go to school In Bloyang sub-village because they lack a teacher. Then in Guhung Bajang sub-village, children who want to study in middle school must go on a long trip or sometimes need to leave their home and stay in the village closest to the school. All these experience makes me felt, “How grateful I am with my life that I have right now.”
We are grateful too that the ASRI staff is so committed to the villages of Bukit Baka Bukit Raya and routinely take the long journey there to bring health care, livelihoods trainings, and now, thanks to Etty, conservation education! After the 12 years of success at ASRI improving health and wellbeing and reducing logging, we know that partnering with this team and new communities will protect more critical rainforest and also help the communities living nearby, so that they can live in harmony with their environment. No one should have to destroy a rainforest to take care of their family, and the ASRI team is making that possible in BBBR everyday. Thanks Etty for sharing your story!