Guest blog by Stella Lesmana

If my “Borneo bracelet” breaks, that’s the sign that I should visit Sukadana again.

That was my promise. Finally on February 20, 2017 I landed again in Ketapang.

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How often do we spend time seriously envisioning a positive future for humanity? Most of our collective visioning is filled with doom and gloom and warnings of impending collapse. These dystopian futures have their place as they can warn us of the consequences of continuing along a given path, but we can lose hope and direction if that is all we have.
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Part 3 of 3 - Our Progress. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

The first two parts of this series outlined the conservation challenges in Borneo and our efforts to combat deforestation by engaging communities. The question now is whether our solutions work. But when dealing with issues that combine economics, health care, social justice, and conservation biology, how do you measure progress? Planetary health is an emerging discipline and we are using methods that have not been tried before. So there aren’t many clear benchmarks for comparison.

We can start by asking what success would look like. For Health In Harmony’s Indonesian partner, Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), complete success would mean 1) zero deforestation in Gunung Palung National Park, 2) a return of the park to 100% natural vegetation cover, and 3) net forest growth throughout the region. And we would have achieved those goals by creating healthy communities that are invested in the long-term integrity of the natural landscape. So how do we stack up against those goals?

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With summer now in full swing, you might be looking for some great reads for those lazy beach days and long road trips. We've got you covered with five thought-provoking books to bring you up to speed on all things conservation, global health, and planetary health. Read More

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Part 2 of 3 - Our Solution. Read Part 1 here.

Health In Harmony’s mission and that of their Indonesian partner, Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), is a difficult one—stopping forest loss in western Borneo, a region with one of the world’s highest deforestation rates (check out Part I for an introduction to the problem). As planetary health professionals, we seek solutions that address the underlying social conditions that lead to forest loss. But those social factors are complicated, involving issues like government policy, population growth, poverty, indigenous rights, gender equality, and education. Tackling such a complex problem requires comprehensive and flexible solutions and more than a bit of creativity.

Focusing on the area around Gunung Palung National Park, ASRI uses a 5-pronged approach that combats deforestation on multiple fronts.

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Part 1 of 3 - The Problem

To many people, Borneo is a remote and wild place, an unspoiled tropical island teeming with dense forests, wildlife, and traditional cultures. Throughout the early twentieth century, this view was partly true; the island was over 75% forested and was home to hundreds of thousands of orangutans and other wildlife, in addition to diverse communities of people speaking dozens of different languages. Read More

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Last month, Health In Harmony Founder, Dr. Kinari Webb, returned to her alma mater, the Yale School of Medicine, to give this year's Commencement Address. She was honored to have the opportunity to offer insight to the graduates, encouraging them to treat their patients with compassion, to strive for social justice, and to use their training to create a healthier planet.

"You may not have thought of your stethoscope as a tool to heal the Earth, the lungs of the Earth - otherwise known as rain forests. But it turns out that it can be. Your medical skills have all kinds of unexpected powers, and I want to argue that we actually all need to become planet doctors."

Watch the video below, Kinari takes the stage at 3:40:

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April and May's latest and greatest reads on environmental conservation, global health, and everything in between.

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Guest blog by Sam Jennings

‘My Daddy is saving rain forests and orangutans!’ says our spirited 4-year-old daughter Isla Boo, to anyone who is interested. And in reality, to many people that are probably not. Bless her, she is a talker, this one. I love to hear the animation in her and Theo’s voices as they talk about their Daddy's new job and feel proud that we have all embraced this change in our lives with passion and enthusiasm as a little family.

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Planetary health. “What is that?” - you might be asking.

Debates continue about the primary drivers of change in Earth systems, but few can argue that the disruption of our planet’s interacting physical, chemical, biological, and human processes are taking their toll, and that toll includes an urgent threat to global human health. Environmental issues can no longer be seen as ‘not my problem’ as evidence grows illustrating the connections between accelerated environmental change and the direct impacts adversely affecting human health. Regardless of how we have previously viewed news on the environmental front, and our role in it, the time has come for everyone to pay attention. Your health depends on it.

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Thanks to the support of our generous donors, our partner Alam Sehat Lestari’s (ASRI) clinic in West Kalimantan provides an array of women’s health services, including obstetrics, maternity care, family planning, and vaccines for both women and newborns. They’ve also implemented new educational programs to provide materials to all of the moms and children that come to ASRI, not only for delivery services but also for general maternal and child health.

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Guest blog by Clare Wolfowitz, Ph.D.

What works? Carefully designed community outreach works. And community capacity-building works. Here’s how.

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Guest blog by YungAh Lee

Every morning I had something to look forward to as I biked to the ASRI hospital.

“Allo!”

A small boy greeted me like a happy sunflower, shouting a big hello with his hand stretched out. I can't remember what he looks like because every time I biked past him I was often distracted by his mother’s pop-up stand selling pineapples, bananas, other tropical fruits that I cannot name. But I do remember his lively voice, launching off my day with a fortissimo.

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I’ve just returned from my first visit to Indonesia, where our programs have been co-designed and executed by our Indonesian program partner, Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI).

I met former loggers trained to be sustainable farmers and small business owners. I walked through rain forests regenerated and protected for the health of thousands of species and the planet. I explored the beautiful, recently constructed hospital, and met the men, women, and children who can access life-saving health care there every day thanks to the generosity of our donors.

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February and March’s latest and greatest reads on deforestation, global health, and everything in between.

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Last year, our partner Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) piloted a new Chainsaw Buyback Entrepreneurship program. This micro-enterprise development program was launched to target the remaining ±180 loggers living around Gunung Palung National Park and help them find an alternative, sustainable income for their families. ASRI selected 10 individuals who already had side jobs that had the potential to scale-up and held a 5-day training with entrepreneurship experts from Jogjakarta, which included developing business plans and distribution of start-up funds. The loggers' wives were also required to attend the training in order to foster accountability and have joint buy-in for these new enterprises.

The results from the pilot were encouraging: after just a few months, 60% of the participants stopped logging entirely while 40% were logging occasionally while they waited for the businesses to become profitable.

Now almost a year later, ASRI has made the program official with an added touch: to participate in the program, loggers must sell their chainsaws to ASRI. The money from selling their chainsaws serves as part of the start-up costs for starting their own businesses. This month, ASRI signed on their first participants, Herwandi and his wife Darus Sita.

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Before our new Executive Director, Jonathan Jennings (read about him here), sets off, I sat down with him in Portland for a quick chat about his first trip to Indonesia. Here’s what he had to say.

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Guest blog by Nicole Lin

I went on the Journey to Borneo with my parents, and though they have supported Health In Harmony for several years, I didn’t know very much about the organization or its connection to ASRI going into the trip and didn’t really know what to expect from it. That said, the trip was wonderful from start to finish and offered endless inspiration for me, a college student trying to figure out options for meaningful, fulfilling work after graduation.

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Guest blog by Maggie Gumbinner

I’m often asked why I choose to spend my free time working for Health In Harmony from the many good organizations and causes out there. But, it all became very clear to me one day on the Journey to Borneo last year during a hike through Gunung Palung National Park.

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As of February 1, 2017, we are temporarily suspending our sending of new volunteers to ASRI. This is due to recent changes in Indonesian immigration regulations and visa requirements. Though no new volunteers will be able to travel at this time, all volunteers who are currently at ASRI are able to stay for the duration of their trip, as planned. Short-term visits involving our supporters -- such as our Journey to Borneo in May -- will also proceed as planned.

Health In Harmony and ASRI staff are working with the Indonesian government to understand the new procedures and regulations. It is our priority to adhere to Indonesian law and ensure the safety and security of all who visit. The volunteer program is of immense mutual value for ASRI staff and for visitors, and we hope to reinstate the program in the near future. Though we are not currently processing applications for our volunteer program, we have a form where individuals can express interest and sign-up for updates. Once procedures have been clarified, we will contact you.

We are immensely grateful for all the students, doctors, conservation professionals, photographers and many others who have volunteered their time, contributed their skills, and advanced our mission over the years.

Please reach out at any time to Amy Krzyzek, International Partnerships Manager, or Trina Jones, Managing Director, with your questions.

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