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.
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Guest blog by Stella Lesmana

If my “Borneo bracelet” breaks, that’s the sign that I should visit Sukadana again.

That was my promise. Finally on February 20, 2017 I landed again in Ketapang.

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Guest blog by YungAh Lee

Every morning I had something to look forward to as I biked to the ASRI hospital.

“Allo!”

A small boy greeted me like a happy sunflower, shouting a big hello with his hand stretched out. I can't remember what he looks like because every time I biked past him I was often distracted by his mother’s pop-up stand selling pineapples, bananas, other tropical fruits that I cannot name. But I do remember his lively voice, launching off my day with a fortissimo.

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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 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.

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In Indonesia, doctors must pay to complete their medical residency, creating a wide gap between those who can afford specialized training and those who cannot. Not only is this an inequitable system, but it means that rural areas are often void of skilled doctors. A small group of Health In Harmony donors has already given $110,000 to three former ASRI doctors currently completing their residencies. These doctors plan to return to ASRI and serve as required specialists in the Community Hospital and Training Center for five years. But they need $74,000 to finish their education. You can help keep them in school with a donation today.

Below, we share the stories of these three doctors.

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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.
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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

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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

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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.

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Guest blog by Edward Pranoto

The months leading up to my departure were quite often filled with trepidation. Despite being fluent in Bahasa and being relatively familiar with the local culture, there is always something about going alone into the "unknown." In hindsight, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. On my first day at Klinik ASRI, I saw more friendly, smiling faces in one small room during morning meeting than I do in a typical, busy hospital ward in Melbourne. The atmosphere on morning meetings are almost always jovial, but what I came to realize during my time in Sukadana is that you not only become part of the ASRI family, but also part of the local community.

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Guest blog by Ben Johnson

At 8am we finished loading the truck for our journey for the Mobile Clinic. It was imperative that we set off early, as, while the sun was still low in the sky, it had already begun to get hot, and we had more than 8 hours to drive to reach the remote villages. Between the 95 degree heat and the bumpy dirt road, the one saving grace was our stereo, which allowed Dr. Vina to lead us in singing enthusiastically along to an eclectic mix of Indonesian and Western pop music.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Derek Richardson is a Clinical Instructor and Physician at the University of California, San Francisco General Hospital and served as an attending physician at the ASRI Clinic in January 2015. He was drawn to Health In Harmony for the "interesting and valuable goal in providing health care inside a larger umbrella of resource and community awareness" and discusses his experience on Mobile Clinic trips while volunteering with ASRI.

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vina doctor

Dr. Vina

When Dr. Vina Wang first told her parents she would like to work for Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) in rural Borneo, they took some convincing.

“When I first wanted to go to ASRI, it was hard to ask for my father’s permission because my parents think Borneo is in the middle of nowhere. My mother was very supportive, but my dad was worried about his daughter in the middle of the jungle.” Vina told HIH’s executive director, Michelle Bussard, in a recent interview.

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Guest blog by Dr. Krista Farey

Coming to Sukadana has been a blast of hot humid air, and warm new friends. As soon as I arrived and was situated in the "girls' house" off we went on our bikes. Imagine my surprise, arriving from San Francisco, to what I had heard was arguably one of the most corrupt and disaster-prone countries of the world, to learn that we had no bike locks. Not needed in Sukadana, they said, and besides, these are ASRI bikes. The "girls" were confident that there is so much respect for ASRI in the community that no one would mess with an ASRI bike.

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No one understands what drives our exceptional volunteers, all highly skilled professionals, to rearrange their lives to assist in our conservation and public health initiatives quite like Dr. Jesse Turner. He committed to spending 6 months out of the year at ASRI helping run the clinic, after volunteering in 2013.

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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.

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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.

Dr. Anna Arroyo is a third year medical resident on the Global Health track at Stanford. She volunteered at ASRI for six weeks, and we had the chance to sit down together at the beginning of March right before she left to talk about what she contributed to ASRI and what she is taking home.

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