Internships with local high schools and universities allow our partner ASRI to share their knowledge of safe, sustainable farming practices with the broader community. In return, these young interns bring fresh ideas and innovation to the program, keeping ASRI at the forefront of the Planetary Health movement through an influx of talent from all backgrounds.

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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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Guest blog by Tea Chandra

What is the thing in the world that makes you most happy? To be in love? Maybe. To have lots of money? Yes, for many people. Well, I think a little differently…

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Guest blog by David Woodbury

This is a story where I try to trace what left me squatting in a dark bathroom full of large spiders, in a house without electricity, on the edge of the rainforest, after an evening meal in a Dayak household (an ethnic group who are the native people of Borneo). **Note: I will star every time I consumed something questionable. Read More

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Guest blog by Daniel Gavin

Just a month after receiving my undergraduate degree I took a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to the Borneo rain forest as a research assistant in Gunung Palung National Park. For over a year I helped run Cabang Panti field station, traveled its many kilometers of trails, and helped the core data collection that streamed in from our dedicated staff, about fruiting patterns, animal censuses, and the dynamics of the trees and seedlings. The astounding biodiversity spread across seven distinct landforms and forest types meant “discoveries”, at least to this neophyte, every day.

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Guest blog by Latha Swamy

Climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.

If you are on this page, you have probably heard or read this statement before. Most recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) released this call to action in the lead up to the UN Climate Negotiations (21st Conference of the Parties, or COP21) in Paris in early December.

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See below for a piece from Reforestation Volunteer Adam Miller.
Sedahan1I always say that ASRI’s two reforestation sites are like two children: Laman Satong, our older reforestation site that had the fire last year, is like the difficult child that needs constant love and attention in order to thrive. In contrast, Sedahan, our younger reforestation site, is the precocious child that constantly delivers amazing surprises, unasked.

Every time I go there, I am amazed at how tall the trees have grown in less than two years. The site's peatland soil is far more fertile than the degraded, dry soil at Laman Satong. Many of the planted trees are already over two meters tall. One species in particular, petai (stink bean) has been consistently shooting up like a rocket wherever we plant it.

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Each week this month, we’re bringing you fresh perspectives on ASRI’s work from some of the people who know it best: our volunteers.

ASRI has a steady stream of volunteers from the west. Less common are volunteers from within Indonesia. Yusep Synata, from Jakarta, is at ASRI for several weeks in March and April, working with the conservation team, in addition to translating materials for future domestic volunteers, and interpreting for me in interviews with patients, staff and community members. He sat down with Trina (HIH Development and Administration Associate) in his first week to talk about what drew him to ASRI and his interesting experience learning English.

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Michelle Bussard and most of the Health In Harmony staff are currently in Sukadana, preparing to welcome a group of donors to ASRI in just a few days' time. We will be featuring blogs about the on-the-ground ASRI experience during this time.

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Guest blog by Andrew MacDonald

Andrew with tree

Me with a tree, circa 2009

How in the world can I express what that time meant? It has been almost four years since I arrived at Sukadana, and my memories of it are still treasured and vivid: I can still recall many heartbreaks and joys from my time there. When I look back, I particularly recall certain things that were said to me -- words which, through the following years, would become symbols of my time in and around Gunung Palung. They are not direct quotations, of course (and my apologies to anyone who feels misrepresented!), -- nevertheless I want to share some of them with you, because I hope they will recall your own memories of why you loved your time with ASRI.

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As a past student of biology, Indonesia has long held a special place in my heart, both for its abundant natural beauty and for its vast biological resources. Located in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean, Borneo is the third largest island in the world. Although its size is massive, at nearly 740,000 square kilometers, its human population is slight.

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Guest blog by Chris Woerner

Waking up in Sukadana for me is an auditory adventure in itself. From the distant rainforest the exotic siren-like whoops and howls of the kelempiau, the White Faced Gibbons, drift through the mist into my window. Closer by, the cheerful, bubbly song of the Yellow-Vented Bulbul perched outside in shrubbery contrasts with the surprisingly loud, harsh croaking of the Cik-Cak gecko in the rafters above my head. Suddenly a new sound begins: the powerful soul-stirring wail of human song: the morning “Call to Prayer” coming from the village mosque.

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An abundance of seedlings at the Laman Satong nursery, ready to be planted. Photo by Kari Malen.

An abundance of seedlings at the Laman Satong nursery, ready to be planted. Photo by Kari Malen.

 

It’s the end of the rainy season here in West Kalimantan, and the hundreds of newly planted seedlings in the village of Laman Satong are soaking up the last few rainstorms before their upcoming battles with drought and weeds during the dry season.

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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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All photos by Patrick M. Ryan, a volunteer with Health In Harmony at ASRI. Click on any photo to see slideshow (you may need to wait for photos to load).

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"Well-Received" - Clean water innovation around Gunung Palung

Guest blog by Patrick Ryan

The first time I went to ASRI, late last year, I brought goodies to the ASRI clinic in Sukadana. Stethoscopes, sphygmomanometer, oximeters, and other medical equipment, and also my favorite travel gift- crayons.  Kinari thanked me for the gifts and at some point I let slip that I'm a birder in my Puget Sound home.  She said, "I have a job for you!"  - A Bornean bird survey in the areas ASRI has been reforesting.

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Guest blog by Deepa Agashe

Too often and in various ways, our species has trampled over other life forms, perhaps forgetting that we are all intimately connected. I do not use “connected” in a hippie-holistic way – I say “linked” in the scientific sense, with a long legacy of previous research supporting my choice of word.

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Volunteer Coordinator Kari Malen discusses reforestation plans with project staff. Photo by Jessica De Jarnette.

I often joke that American citizens should have to spend time abroad – preferably in the developing world – before being given the right to vote. But, I am only half joking.

I started my affair with ASRI as a volunteer three years ago, with a desire to get more experience in forest restoration and to visit an exotic place called Borneo – but not be a tourist. And, well, I am still here. My role has shifted a bit but my desire to help has only grown. For some of my friends and family it is hard to understand why I would choose to live in a rural village, in a remote corner of the world, to plant trees – for free! But, if you have been fortunate enough to have an experience like volunteering with ASRI or a similar organization – I bet you understand. It is hard to put those feelings into words, but I can try to give you a sense of it.

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Kari and Loren pay their respects at a temple in Bali.

This summer wonderful Volunteer Manager Kari Malen will be moving back to the U.S. with her husband Loren Bell who, in his own words, has been pursuing a graduate degree in "ecology, free-lance writing and chasing gibbons" in the rainforest near Sukadana. Loren has also helped ASRI in many ways including by providing fire suppression training for our reforestation crew.   As Kari and Loren contemplate their leaving, I asked her what she would most love as a parting gift.

Will you join me in giving Kari a gift of thanks?

What Kari really wants is a bit unusual: the gift of knowing that the ASRI conservation program is in good hands. With Kari moving on and Pak Ngalim, our current conservation manager and organic farming coordinator, moving to a consulting role, we want to combine their jobs and hire a new conservation manger who can act as liaison and ASRI conservation staff manager. There are two ways you can help!

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