We sat down with Dr. Nomi, a 5 year veteran of the clinic at Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), our Indonesian partner organization. She recently left ASRI to return home and continue her studies, with the goal of becoming a radiologist. But before she moved on, Dr. Nomi shared insights from her experience treating patients and transforming lives at ASRI.

Q: Can you share some of the things you’ve learned?
Dr. Nomi:  Here, I learned to treat not only the patient, but the family. Because the patients sometimes aren’t the only one who need to be taken care of.  I learned to not just see the patient as a patient, but as a human – as someone who lives with their family and their environment. [I learned] to see the whole web of connections with that patient, their environment, and their condition.

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We're sharing this beautifully written guest post from Maleeha Malik, a recent visitor to our Indonesian partners Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI). Maleeha describes her visit and ASRI's life changing impact. The original post can be found on Maleeha's blog: Ke Mana? Stories from Asia

"Two weeks ago, I visited Alam Sehat Lestari, or ASRI for short, an NGO in West Kalimantan that is dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare for communities around Gunung Palung National Park. The name Alam Sehat Lestari literally translates to ‘nature healthy sustainable’; ASRI translates to ‘beautiful’. It is exactly this idea of linking healthcare to a healthy environment that ASRI is trying to promote."

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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.

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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.
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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.
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“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).

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Kebun Keluarga (Kitchen Gardens) is one of ASRI's conservation programs, focusing on alternative livelihood development. This program works with women who live around Gunung Palung National Park, teaching them how to cultivate the small plots of land they manage next to their homes.

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“Now we have hope. Now we KNOW change is possible!”

This is what one man told Kinari about his community over the last ten years. Health In Harmony has focused on data since creating a baseline survey in 2007 to monitor behavior change and health impact over time. But we haven’t figured out a way to quantify hope. We can’t quite measure how important respect, love, and commitment are to the changes we see (though we’re working on it!).

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Dear friends of Health In Harmony,

I just got back from a wonderful seven weeks in Kalimantan and I want to thank you all for helping make the hospital possible. Because of visa issues, I had not actually been back since November when the ASRI team officially moved into the building. So for me, the last time I saw the building was in the first week of the team using it.

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Interview with Adam Phillipson, the Great Apes Program Officer at the Arcus Foundation, who visited our partner ASRI in May.

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Guest blog by Arvian Heidir

Meet members of the ASRI team through this beautiful photo series by supporter, Arvian Heidir. Read More

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Thanks to so many donors, supporters, and friends, our flagship partner ASRI celebrated their 10th anniversary on July 13th. To mark this incredible occasion, ASRI hosted an open house and festival on hospital grounds.  Read More

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Health In Harmony’s (HIH) next phase is to expand the conservation and human health reach by replicating the model. Behind the scenes, HIH staff -- with input from our partner, Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) and the HIH Board of Directors -- have been busy looking into possibilities and thinking about ways to effectively improve lives, reducing the pressure on protected areas and successfully conserve precious ecosystems. As that work continues, we wanted to take a moment to share with you one of the opportunities we are pursuing. But first, let’s talk about methodology.

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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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Part 3 of 3 - Our Progress. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

The first two parts of this series outlined the conservation challenges in Borneo and our efforts to combat deforestation by engaging communities. The question now is whether our solutions work. But when dealing with issues that combine economics, health care, social justice, and conservation biology, how do you measure progress? Planetary health is an emerging discipline and we are using methods that have not been tried before. So there aren’t many clear benchmarks for comparison.

We can start by asking what success would look like. For Health In Harmony’s Indonesian partner, Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), complete success would mean 1) zero deforestation in Gunung Palung National Park, 2) a return of the park to 100% natural vegetation cover, and 3) net forest growth throughout the region. And we would have achieved those goals by creating healthy communities that are invested in the long-term integrity of the natural landscape. So how do we stack up against those goals?

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Part 2 of 3 - Our Solution. Read Part 1 here.

Health In Harmony’s mission and that of their Indonesian partner, Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), is a difficult one—stopping forest loss in western Borneo, a region with one of the world’s highest deforestation rates (check out Part I for an introduction to the problem). As planetary health professionals, we seek solutions that address the underlying social conditions that lead to forest loss. But those social factors are complicated, involving issues like government policy, population growth, poverty, indigenous rights, gender equality, and education. Tackling such a complex problem requires comprehensive and flexible solutions and more than a bit of creativity.

Focusing on the area around Gunung Palung National Park, ASRI uses a 5-pronged approach that combats deforestation on multiple fronts.

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Part 1 of 3 - The Problem

To many people, Borneo is a remote and wild place, an unspoiled tropical island teeming with dense forests, wildlife, and traditional cultures. Throughout the early twentieth century, this view was partly true; the island was over 75% forested and was home to hundreds of thousands of orangutans and other wildlife, in addition to diverse communities of people speaking dozens of different languages. Read More

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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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I’ve just returned from my first visit to Indonesia, where our programs have been co-designed and executed by our Indonesian program partner, Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI).

I met former loggers trained to be sustainable farmers and small business owners. I walked through rain forests regenerated and protected for the health of thousands of species and the planet. I explored the beautiful, recently constructed hospital, and met the men, women, and children who can access life-saving health care there every day thanks to the generosity of our donors.

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