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?
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.
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).
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.”
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."
Nina Finley shares another blog post with us - this one focuses on Alam Sehat Lestari's reforestation program and the progress at the Lamong Satong reforestation site. This is the second in a series of blog posts from Nina. (Read more about Nina's travels on her blog Natural Selections.)
Heat rises from the wet ground and pulses down through black shade cloth. I can feel thermal energy surrounding me in waves. Welcome to the tropics.
Nina Finley, a recent graduate of Whitman College currently researching disease ecology and traveling the world on a Watson Fellowship, shares her notes on an expedition to Gunung Palung National Park -- and the amazing flora and fauna she encountered there! This is the first in a series of blog posts that Nina shared with us while visiting Sukadana and our pilot program Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI). Read more about Nina's travels on her blog Natural Selections.
This month we found everything from important research to inspiring news to share. Check it out!
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.
Dr. Courtney Howard is an emergency room physician who has witnessed the health impacts of climate change firsthand through her work in the Canadian Arctic. Bringing years of experience in medicine, public health, and planetary health, she recently joined Health In Harmony's Board of Directors and visited our pilot program, Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), to provide clinical instruction to their doctors. This post from Courtney's blog shows the impact of our Chainsaw Buyback program, an innovative way to promote sustainable livelihoods and help the few remaining loggers put down their chainsaws once and for all.
Along with the rest of the world, we were saddened to read the coverage several weeks ago about the precipitous decline of the world’s orangutan population over the last 16 years. Fascination with these incredible cousins of ours is what first drew me to Borneo 20 years ago, and I left with a concern for them and our whole planet that has fueled the work of Health In Harmony ever since.
Last month, we welcomed Ashley Emerson as Health In Harmony's new Program Director. With a Masters in International Development, Community, and Environment from Clark University and years of experience leading and developing international programs around the world, we are thrilled to have her on the team. And to give you the chance to get to her know too, we sat down with her this week for an interview.
“This is my first time seeing an orangutan in the wild with my own eyes,” said Tian.
Tian is one of several students involved in ASRI Teens, an after-school conservation education curriculum for high schoolers through ASRI's Planetary Health Education Program. Similar to ASRI Kids, which targets primary and middle schoolers, the ASRI Teens study issues related to health and our environment. They also go outdoors to learn, and last November went on an overnight field trip with International Animal Rescue (IAR).
At Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), we believe that the communities we work with are the best solvers of their own problems, and it is our job to listen to them and help them find solutions. And listening is not something we do only once - it is a continuous process the helps us constantly refine our programs. So on January 15th, ASRI held radical listening meetings with villages around Gunung Palung National Park.
February's latest and greatest reads on environmental conservation, global health, and everything in between.
For our last What We're Reading of the year, we've rounded up our staff's favorite articles of the year. What were your favorite picks of 2017?