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This month marked the first round of patient visits for Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI)'s mobile clinic team in their new truck! The mobile clinic team climbed aboard and headed to a small village called Pangkalan Jihing. Loaded up with blood pressure monitors, eyeglasses, dental equipment, and everything in between, the new truck was ready for its long ride through the forest.
We asked our partners at Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) about the impact of the recent earthquake in Indonesia. Below is the response we received from Nur Febriani, ASRI's Executive Director:
Dear brothers and sisters at Health in Harmony,
I am sure you have heard about the recent big disaster in Indonesia.
We sat down with Dr. Nomi, a 5 year veteran of the clinic at Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), our Indonesian partner organization. She recently left ASRI to return home and continue her studies, with the goal of becoming a radiologist. But before she moved on, Dr. Nomi shared insights from her experience treating patients and transforming lives at ASRI.
Q: Can you share some of the things you’ve learned?
Dr. Nomi: Here, I learned to treat not only the patient, but the family. Because the patients sometimes aren’t the only one who need to be taken care of. I learned to not just see the patient as a patient, but as a human – as someone who lives with their family and their environment. [I learned] to see the whole web of connections with that patient, their environment, and their condition.
We're sharing this beautifully written guest post from Maleeha Malik, a recent visitor to our Indonesian partners Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI). Maleeha describes her visit and ASRI's life changing impact. The original post can be found on Maleeha's blog: Ke Mana? Stories from Asia
"Two weeks ago, I visited Alam Sehat Lestari, or ASRI for short, an NGO in West Kalimantan that is dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare for communities around Gunung Palung National Park. The name Alam Sehat Lestari literally translates to ‘nature healthy sustainable’; ASRI translates to ‘beautiful’. It is exactly this idea of linking healthcare to a healthy environment that ASRI is trying to promote."
Have you ever heard of a hospital that grows its own vegetables? Our partner Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) not only grows trees to plant in the rainforest - they also grow fruit and vegetables! ASRI's garden, which is currently being re-designed and expanded, also showcases organic gardening techniques to families who want to learn.
Staff at our pilot program Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) have witnessed a dramatic decrease in logging in Gunung Palung National Park over the past 11 years. By offering affordable health care and training in organic agriculture, ASRI has enticed almost all of the loggers who used to operate in the park to put away their chainsaws for good. But that has left a minority - about 12% of logging households according to our latest calculations - who have continued to log.
For the past year, Pak Faisal has driven ASRI's truck through tough terrain in rural Borneo; from muddy tracks and giant potholes to wooden bridges and rising flood waters! He told us that every time he drives the old ASRI truck, his wife and children worry about him. The following is a brief interview with him, translated into English and lightly edited for clarity:
Q: How long have you been driving for ASRI?
A: One year. Started last August.
Q: How does it feel driving for ASRI? Have you worked as a driver before?
A: Before, I worked as a driver in Central Kalimantan. At ASRI, unlike my previous job, I feel like I’m part of a family. Previously, there was no communication between staff members. But with ASRI I feel a sense of togetherness, especially during the mobile clinic and any conservation activities.
We often call our Journey to Borneo an opportunity to travel with a purpose. Visiting ASRI and Indonesia is an experience like none other, and, as this year's travelers say in the video at the bottom of this post - it will change your life. But why? What is it about seeing planetary health in action that makes such a difference?
Every month our partner Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) provides clinical care and follow up visits for families in the most rural villages on the border of Gunung Palung National Park. ASRI staff crisscross the landscape delivering affordable medical care to patients who have no other access to medical care. In exchange, patients often pay with seedlings instead of cash.
Our partners at Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) needed a large sign to commemorate this important occasion. Not wanting to buy a plastic banner or a whiteboard made of plastic, they found an old plank - part of the crate that once contained ASRI's X-ray machine - and painted it black. Then they used chalk to decorate it with drawings and a message reading: "ASRI Executive Director Transition Ceremony and Blessings." After 6 years of dedicated service, ASRI Executive Director Monica Nirmala was handing over the reigns to a new leader, Nur Febri Wardi.
Every so often, the Board and Staff of Health In Harmony like to share some of the current books on their nightstand. Books feed our curiosity about nature, humanity, and everything in between. Particularly in these times of troubling or even overwhelming news, reading a good book is one of the best ways to reinforce our optimism for and commitment to a healthy planet with healthy people. Here are our Summer Reading picks for 2018:
International Program Director Kari Malen is saying goodbye to Health In Harmony after almost a decade! Kari's knowledge of, dedication to, and passion for our mission will be missed. Here, Kari shares a farewell message for Health In Harmony and its supporters:
Nine years ago, I showed up on ASRI’s doorstep with a passion for reforestation and a desire to help make good happen in the world. Health In Harmony and ASRI family took me in like one of their own. I started as a volunteer helping to plan and oversee reforestation work with communities on the edge of Gunung Palung National Park; a dream come true, and, well, I just didn’t want to leave.
We are appalled and saddened by the Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold the current administration's ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. This policy directly conflicts with our values.
Trina Noonan, Health In Harmony's Managing Director, is currently in Borneo visiting our pilot program Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI). Seeing the beautiful new hospital building, and signs of economic development in Sukadana, along with ASRI's successful reforestation initiatives, Trina reflects on how the region has developed over the years.
When my boat driver pulled out his smart phone, it was a bit of a shock. He casually scrolled through Instagram as we sped past the dense mangrove forests and wooden homes perched on stilts over the river. That's when I realized how quickly things have been changing.
Health In Harmony Program Director Ashley Emerson recently visited Borneo and brought back this update from our next program site there:
Dear Friends of Health In Harmony,
I recently returned from an extended trip to Borneo to work with our partner Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) and support the launch of our second site in the beautiful rain forest communities of Bukit Baka Bukit Rya National Park (BBBR).
Every year, staff and community members at Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) celebrate Green Day. It's not only an opportunity to plant trees, but also to strengthen relationships among ASRI staff, the community they serve, and the local government. This year, Green Day participants helped plant trees in a special zone of Gunung Palung National Park, an area called Rantau Panjang.
In the final installment of her series about Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), guest blogger Nina Finley shares more details about her experience, and how Planetary Health is shaping her research and future plans. You can read more of Nina's writing at her blog, Natural Selections.
For the past month I've been visiting Sukadana, a village nestled on the edge of Gunung Palung National Park in Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia. This lowland dipterocarp rainforest is home to 3,000 of the last Bornean orangutans. I’m volunteering here with Yayasan Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), roughly translating to Healthy Balanced Nature, a pathbreaking Planetary Health hospital with a mission to “save the rainforest with a stethoscope.”
Traditionally, in rural Borneo, wives whose husbands have died are left with few options for making a living. Our partners at Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) created the Goats for Widows program to empower these women and give them economic independence. Amy Cardamone, a public health expert who works in different rural areas throughout Southeast Asia, visited Alam Sehat Lestari recently and witnessed the birth of a baby goat, with a rather dramatic intervention from ASRI staff:
We have received strong evidence that our work in partnership with Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) is preventing and reversing deforestation in Gunung Palung National Park. Just this week, new research conducted by ASRI staff revealed that deforestation in Gunung Palung has slowed significantly. Summing up their findings, the authors wrote: "Community empowerment, forest rehabilitation, and health care incentives as payment for ecosystem services can help reduce deforestation."