Dr. Krista Farey is a physician from California who has visited our pilot program Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) on several occasions. Here is a recent update from Dr. Farey:
Greetings from Sukadana, West Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia, where I have the good fortune and privilege to be serving for a third time as teaching support for the excellent team of young Indonesian doctors at ASRI clinic. The environment is as luscious as ever and my work at ASRI clinic, a non-profit linking human health and planetary health, is fun and gratifying. Medicine here remains a calling and is not just a job.
Guest blog by Felona Gunawan
Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I never moved to the United States. It was partly to satisfy this curiosity that I decided to go to Sukadana, Indonesia for my rotation as a Johnson and Johnson Global Health Scholar. I was both nervous and excited. Nervous because I was not sure what to expect: will people still be able to understand my elementary level Indonesian? Have the social and political climates changed much from when I moved in 1999? How much can a doctor with Western training that depends so much on technology contribute? Thankfully, a lot of these fears quickly dissipated soon after my arrival in Sukadana. Not necessarily because these challenges were not present, but more so because of the amazing and dedicated staff and community. Moreover, my experience in Sukadana has allowed me to reconnect with the humanitarian aspect of medicine that is often lost in the practice of Western medicine.
Guest blog by Vince O'Hara
Only 17% of my fellow Americans are “alarmed” by climate change, according to a recent survey. More than half (55%) rank climate change last among 23 competing political priorities.
As someone alarmed by climate change, this news is alarming. When I look around and see rising temperatures, increasing carbon emissions, declining forests, dying seas, booming human population, mass displacement, and surging migration, alongside an admirable yet insufficient international agreement that assumes that we will make fundamental economic shifts by mid-century or otherwise face unimaginable heat, I cannot help but be alarmed.
Guest blog by Jessie Kittle
Seven years of advanced and expensive training in the US has prepared me to be an attending in a few months. Particularly in my practice setting, expensive and complex interventions are the norm and sometimes benefit the patient. I’ve recognized throughout the years that the system that shaped me has some serious flaws. Health care access is often disparate, and we spend more time facing the computer than our patients. Futile care at the end of life and over-utilization of expensive interventions are common, and the bankrupting of patients occurs regularly (and beyond the view of doctors who contributed). I have sometimes felt my passion for this version of doctoring wane, and I came to ASRI seeking the holistic ideal of connecting with patients and improving the community with my practice.
Rural health care in Indonesia is in crisis right now. Consider these statistics: The life expectancy in Indonesia is 67 years old. Only 5% of the population is currently over the age of 65. In addition, approximately a third of children under 5 suffer from stunted growth. Diarrheal disease, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and polio are some of the most common killers among Indonesians.
Guest blog by Alex Domingo
The second reflection in our Volunteer Appreciation Month series! Stay tuned for a new post from volunteers each week in April. Read More
Guest blog by Kenny Morford
Have we told you how awesome our volunteers are? In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month, we are dedicating April to recognizing the contributions of these amazing individuals who travel from all over the world to save forests and save lives in Sukadana. Our work would not be possible without them and we are incredibly grateful for their generous service. Stay tuned for a series of reflections from volunteers throughout the month! Read More
Guest blog by Dr. Krista Farey
Imbolc this week, the half way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox observed by Celts, like me, though I’m not aware of anyone else celebrating Imbolc here. The big holiday coming up in Southeast Asia, is, of course, the onset of the year of the Fire Monkey next week, an event I’m excited to be in Thailand for. I have been in five airports recently and they are all festooned by red lanterns with long tassels and posters and statues of cartoonish monkeys prancing mischievously. The huge major hub airports are hardly distinguishable from each other in décor, concessions and processes, and I can’t help musing on the change since the first time I passed through Bangkok over 40 years ago. The Bangkok International Airport was then a very small open-air building with two gates, one runway, one local handicraft shop and one café, much like the small town airport that I started this trip from yesterday morning.
My first week at ASRI was an orientation: seeing the programs in action, putting faces to names, and creating connections with the community. My first week also marked a tough transition for the ASRI staff: it was Dr. Vina’s last week, after 3 years at ASRI, the last one as head of clinic. Despite her departure, things seemed to be going business as usual, the Clinic bustling as it is most days, with conservation education in the waiting room, volunteers crammed around the table in the back, and patients moving in and out. Even on the toughest day, when there were two suspected cases of tuberculosis, Dr. Vina was steadfast, working with the team to figure out how to best help the patients. It was only when I found her stealing a moment to take a breath did she tell me, “I’m trying not to think about the fact that I’m leaving.”
Guest blog by Jo Whitehouse
Last year, I teamed up with Frances Boscacci, a wonderful person who has an open heart and believes that we all share this little boat called Planet Earth. She is from Nicaragua and passionate about helping others help themselves. Her smile would melt an igloo at 30 feet. She is also head of the International Program for the Rotary Club of Burlingame, where my husband is a long-time member.
Karen Ruby Brown CNM, MSN, a midwife working and living in San Diego, CA found her way to ASRI via the Osborne Foundation, which is dedicated to improving both environmental and maternal-child health and has been one of ASRI's most ardent supporters since 2007.
April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. Each week this month, we'll be featuring new perspectives on ASRI’s work from some of the people who know it best: our volunteers.
Dame Idossa is a Yale medical student who volunteered with the ASRI Clinic in late 2014. During her time on-site, she had a great deal of hands-on experience and took away many lessons on the realities of delivering health care in rural settings.
Guest blog by Dr. Yuliana Jeng
A couple weeks ago, when I was doing my daily routine work as a doctor in the clinic, I met him. He is Mr. Helmi, our 40 year old patient with a very bad foot infection. I remember him because he left a deep impression on me. How can I forget him? I still can remember the day when he came.
Awakening to the timbre of roosters crowing up the dawn that blushes over the steamy landscape, my western-world mind takes a moment to settle. As familiar as I’ve become with Sukadana, a small village of 2,200 sitting on the edge of one of the world’s largest islands, Borneo, it never ceases to humble and inspire. In a world starved for real connections, where texts, tweets, Facebook, Myspace, and a myriad of apps substitute, ASRI stands as a beacon of hope and bastion of true human-to-human connection.
Guest blog by Dr. Yuliana Jeng
"The sky is dark without the stars tonight. Still, I can hear the sound of rain falling down to the ground. I always love this moment. While I was watching the rain through my window, I remember our lovely six year old patient, a little boy named Yasir."
- Dr. Yuli
Richard Ramer found his way to Health In Harmony three years ago when his brother, Andrew Ramer, introduced him to Dr. Kinari Webb. Richard is the head of RAMER Architecture, Inc., an award-winning firm based out of Santa Monica, CA known for sustainable design and LEED certified projects.
“A young girl came in once to the ASRI clinic—she had the worst case of scabies I had ever seen. We diagnosed her in about 5 minutes and treated her and her entire family for $2, because they came from a “green” village. A Yale medical volunteer who happened to be doing research asked them about their medical bills. They had spent $500 on their daughter’s care. They had gone to other doctors, multiple nurses, and the traditional healer several times, and nobody was able to treat her.”
- Dr. Kinari Webb, Founder of Health In Harmony and ASRI
Monica Ruth Nirmala, DDS is part of a proud, if new, tradition in Borneo: dentists saving the rainforest. This month, she follows in the footsteps of internationally celebrated dentist and conservation inspiration Dr. Hotlin Ompusunggu by becoming the Executive Director of Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI).
On one of my last days in Sukadana, I talked with my friends Dr. Nomi and Dr. Yuli, ASRI’s two newest physicians, about why they chose ASRI and what they like about working in the clinic. Both women are passionate about serving their patients and driven to learn and improve. They were drawn to ASRI as a clinic that meets the standards of care they aim to provide.