We were lucky enough to have Mariam Soumah  intern with us for a month in the Portland Health In Harmony office. She was a wonderful addition to the office and did a lot of great work in the short time she was here. This is her account of her time with HIH. Thanks for all you did, Mariam!

Guest blog by Mariam Soumah

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We are launching a campaign to build a full-service Community Health and Training Center at ASRI.

Today, the ASRI Clinic is crowded far beyond capacity. Patients have long waiting times for treatment, and in some cases must return another day. Moreover, the clinic lacks facilities to treat more serious injuries and emergencies, or to provide simple surgeries and inpatient care.

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Guest blog by Art Blundell

Spectacular coral, one of many at Raja Ampat. Photo by Kari Malen 2013.

Spectacular coral, one of many at Raja Ampat. Photo by Kari Malen 2013.

According to mythology, long ago a woman found seven eggs. They hatched into a ghost, a woman, a stone, and four kings—one for each of the four large islands in the archipelago off the northwest tip of New Guinea.  And so the vast archipelago (about the size of New Hampshire & Vermont combined) came to be known as Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings. The area is now the largest marine park in Indonesia, the crown jewel of the world’s coral reefs.

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imageGliding 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 largestimage 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.

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Guest blog by Dr. Kathleen White

Good afternoon to the dedicated and therefore, to me, fortunate fellow Health in Harmony volunteers.

Michelle and Rosevan asked, because I am both an ASRI volunteer and member of the Health in Harmony Board of Directors, would I write the ASRI final volunteer story of this series to both tell my story as well send a personal thanks to all volunteers from the Board? And I said of course! So first I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to you all.

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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.

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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.

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Resilience

Rising before dawn, we run, do our yoga, listen to the swish of brooms and the buzz of saws from the louver and door makers down the street. Roosters having been silent through most of the night begin their cacophony, the Imam calls believers to prayer and the motorbikes begin their buzzing like flies along Sukadana's few main streets. Everything starts early here, before the sun pours down molten hot and life is forced to slow.

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Immediately upon our arrival, the neighborhood kids congregate on the blue-tile front porch of the modest concrete brick home.  The house had been Kari and Loren's who left six months ago to return to the states after having lived, worked and volunteered for ASRI for 3 years We've returned for 3 weeks to host a group of women from Dining for Women but know that there is so much more we are here for as well.

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After 5 years of life in Asia – 3 of which were spent at ASRI – being back stateside is strange.

No doubt, there is much to relish - rekindling spirits with family and friends, eating foods that don't appear in Bornean village markets, driving a car anywhere at anytime of the day. But the most striking piece that I keep coming back to is the disconnect I feel here in anytown, America. I find myself wondering, where do we find community?

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Wonderful friends, inspiring meetings, and sharing successes

Today is my daughter’s birthday. Just as it did 24 years ago, it is snowing in Washington, DC. Instead of giving my presentation at the Woodrow Wilson Center on the Five Year Survey, the day unfolds quietly and offers a time for reflection on this east coast swing.

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We got it! The hospital permit is in hand!

A building permit for ASRI’s hospital is in hand! YES!

We have worked long, hard and patiently for this moment. There have been many memorable milestones and many hurdles - from vague regulations, to difficulty with our "no-bribes" policy.

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“Five years ago there were more than 100 people in my village doing illegal logging, now there are less than 10.” - Pak Bastarin, West Kalimantan

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Chainsaws & Stethoscopes

“Ideas worth spreading” is the motto of TED and TEDx. This could also be Health In Harmony’s tagline, as presented recently in a TEDx talk by Dr. Kinari Webb.

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Today, we are delighted to announce the release of our 2011 Annual Report! Long-awaited - and for good reason. Health In Harmony's 2011 Annual Report lays out a year in accomplishments: results from all our programs at ASRI, from the Clinic to the Forest Guardians to the Goats for Widows program! Download the Report here. Should you prefer a beautiful printed copy, please contact us at info@www.healthinharmony.org or (503) 688-5579.

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Read about Dr. Bunawan’s life-transforming experience at Klinik ASRI and as a life-long learner of medicine. Health In Harmony thanks Yale New Haven Hospital/Global Health Program under the direction of: Dr. Asghar Rastegar; Laura Crawford of J&J Scholars; Board Member Kathleen White; and, Dr. Ewen Wang of Stanford University Medical School, and all the friends of HIH & ASRI who helped Nur out along the way.

Guest blog by Nur Chandra Bunawan, MD

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Guest blog by Janice Winemiller

Do you know that I frequently go through my daily life doing my job, my tasks and even my social activities without deeply thinking about the significance of those moments and the words I hear and use.

Recently, while working on a Rotary grant for Health In Harmony and having to do rewrites, the words Health In Harmony began to sink in, to stare back at me. The significance of those words together began to have real meaning to me. They became powerful - A connection and code that brought inner harmony to my thinking about health and a greater appreciation of how our global environment impacts each of us.

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DIANE DAKIN – Physician

Diane Dakin in Sukadana

Diane in Sukadana

"I have volunteered in health projects in Latin America where I felt comfortable with the language and the culture for 40 years. The decision to volunteer in Sukadana with Health In Harmony/ASRI represented, initially, a testing of my comfort levels, challenging the familiar. Yet, perhaps because it required a leap of faith, it gave me one of the greatest rewards, in terms of feeling useful,appreciated and seeing  that I could contribute to the learning experience of the next generation of Indonesian doctors. I was inspired by ASRI's mission and how it functioned on a daily basis, and by the wonderful people with whom I worked every day, who made me feel so welcome, and who quickly became an extension of my family. I gave the clinic a few months of my sabbatical but I received an invaluable and heartwarming lesson in commitment, dedication and human understanding."

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Rosevan is taking the Borneo Bicycle Challenge, and will be blogging about it on Health In Harmony’s website throughout the fall. Want to do it yourself? It's not too late to take the challenge – register now!

Me on my way to work at the Health In Harmony office during summer. Photo by Michelle Bussard.

Me on my way to work at the Health In Harmony office during summer. Photo by Michelle Bussard.

Every day in October, November, and December, as part of Health In Harmony’s Borneo Bicycle Challenge, I'll ride my bike to work, home, the grocery store, you name it. I’ll do it rain or shine, but mostly rain, because this is Portland and we get 42 inches of rain on average each year. Near our own patches of temperate rainforest, I ride to support a project in a tropical rainforest halfway around the world.

Gearing up in my effective but extremely unflattering rainsuit, I'll remind myself: I am doing this to reduce my own environmental impacts, and in solidarity with the communities around Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. They not only get around by bicycle every day, for every purpose, but also - thanks to the efforts of our partner ASRI - contribute to the conservation, reforestation, and stewardship of one of the most biodiverse, and carbon-absorbing, rainforests on the planet.

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Introduced to what would become the backbone of her life’s work, Clare Wolfowitz first experienced Indonesia as a 16-year old student-participant in AFS (formerly the American Field Service). Her destination, Jogjakarta, located in Central Java, a “beautiful, old city” that captured her intellectual, spiritual and anthropological curiosity.

Clare with homestay sister Rini in Jogjakarta, 1962.

Clare with homestay sister Rini in Jogjakarta, 1962.

Her homestay father was a doctor who served as head of a major hospital, while also running a clinic for those who couldn’t otherwise afford high-quality healthcare. “It was an amazing, amazing experience that made such an impression on me,” Clare said. “And I’ve been giving back ever since.” She and Rini, her homestay sister, remain lifelong friends.

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