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?
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.
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.
Guest blog by Leni Glassman
In August, ten-year-old Leni Glassman traveled to Borneo with her mother, father, and sister, to see Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), the program that her family has been supporting for years, in person. Now, Leni reflects on her experiences and the memorable people she met. Read More
Guest blog by Maggie Gumbinner
Last month, a group of nine Health In Harmony supporters traveled to Sukadana in West Kalimantan, where our partner ASRI operates, as part of the 2016 Friendship Tour. On the trip, they met members of the ASRI staff, saw the rain forest that they helped reforest, talked to the patients whose lives were saved at the clinic, and watched the hospital grow before their eyes. Below, Health In Harmony Board Vice President and trip participant Maggie Gumbinner shares her reflection from the trip.
Over the past two weeks, a group of nine Health In Harmony supporters have been traveling around Sukadana in West Kalimantan, where our partner ASRI operates. On this trip, they've had the opportunity to meet members of the ASRI staff, see the rain forest that they helped reforest, talk to the patients whose lives were saved at the clinic, and watch the hospital grow before their eyes. Below, Health In Harmony Board Vice President and trip participant Maggie Gumbinner shares a series of beautiful photos from their journey. Next stop: Bali! Read More
Guest blog by Mike Kanaga
My wife Peggy and I recently had the privilege of traveling to Indonesia to tour the ASRI facility in Borneo as part of the 2015 Health In Harmony Friendship Tour. We both had a bit of trepidation about this trip – half way around the world, different culture and language, unfamiliar food and surroundings, etc. However, after completing the trip I can say without reservation that I found every aspect of the 3 weeks to be fascinating.
Dr. Ronald Natawidjaja, one of the doctors who has served at ASRI since 2012, was recently accepted into his residency in general surgery, which will begin in January. We are so excited to offer heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Dr. Ron!
This past month, a group of our intrepid supporters traveled to ASRI to see for themselves how our programs are changing lives and saving the rainforest. Now they share their photos so you can follow us to Sukadana and beyond, into the wilds of Borneo. See it all for yourself:
Borneo's rainforests are under siege. Then why are we so hopeful for their future?
As I write, I am drifting through the Tanjung Puting National Park, a Bornean rainforest. Our first group of travelers has finished their days in Sukadana, and we are now on a traditional klotok boat navigating the rivers of the park between stops at orangutan feeding stations. In preparing for this leg of the journey, I kept imagining the gloomy story and setting of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a novel set in the depths of the Congo at the height of colonialism. While we are not being bombarded with the arrows of nearby people or running our boat aground in treacherous and murky waters, now that we are here, I am finding one true comparison.
The ogoh-ogohs are nearly done. Devil creatures with ponderous breasts, big bellies, fangs, claws and bulging eyes. Some are three or four stories high, others the height of doorway. Some are being constructed by groups of older men and young boys, some by groups of older boys. On Balinese New Year, 30 March, the parading and burning will begin followed by a day of total silence throughout the island: everywhere, everyone. I think about the hundreds of ogoh-ogohs tucked under porches and temple roofs, of young boys learning from uncles and fathers, and of the thousands of offerings by women, young and old.
The soundtrack in Sukadana is thunder rolling and roosters crowing. I hear gibbons and children welcoming the day with their shouts and songs as I walk to the clinic in the morning and I hear chickens rustling in the leaves as I rinse with the cool water of the mandi in the open air shower. I learn to listen for motorbikes as I ride my bicycle in the cool breezes of the evenings and slowly start interpreting the rolling r’s of the Bahasa that is spoken around me each day.
Gliding up the Sekonyer River towards Camp Leaky late that first day, it seemed impossible to be transported so completely by a mere 45 minute plane excursion to this place. In the wake of this long day, I let my eyes close on the soothing rustle of Nipa palms hugging in ever closer as we slip up the river in our cradle boat. I miss the silent demarcation with the turn up the Simpan Kanan River and out of the the Sekonyer River's water, mudded by an upstream gold mining operation. In this slow moving narrow channel, the black water river runs clear and cooler. Captain Iyan nestles the boat into its nightly berth against the sturdy Nipa palms, snugs and ties up the other two along side and with that all 18 of us gather on the largest deck of the boats at a long table for a family style dinner. It is a feast of fish in spicy pepper sauce, cap cay, wilted jack fruit greens, sambal, fruits, tempe and the ubiquitous rice served with a water elixir. As we eat, the deck hands make light work of pulling out 18 mattresses, setting beds across the 3 top decks of each boat. A dark night heavy with heat falls quickly and we slip beneath the dreamy gauze of mosquito nets where a single sheet awaits atop each mattress. Like a lullaby, the chorus of crickets thrums us fast asleep.
Tanjung Putang National Park - On the Dolphin
Three days ago, leaving in the dark from Sukadana, there was a telltale shadow of trepidation about spending 3 nights on boats of unknown shape, size or origin with 18 women in humidity and heat between 92-96 degrees, destination: Tanjung Putang National Park.
Morning meeting is packed with ASRI staff and the delegation from Dining for Women who arrive this morning bearing gifts of medical supplies, medical library books, hundreds of eyeglasses, medicines and medical supplies adding to the already delivered ski bag of aluminum crutches and ambulatory boots. Name your most wonderful holiday tradition, and multiply it by 10 and you have a sense of the joy in clinic that morning. Morning meeting is also packed with final preparations for Green Day tomorrow (April 25) at the Lamong Satong nursery, about 90 minutes from Sukadana. More to follow! The excitement of all is palpable as the 12 women that are here are here because of a very generous $33,000 grant from Dining for Women in support of the Goats for Widows program.