Guest blog by Clare Selgin Wolfowitz

The second annual meeting of the Congress of the Indonesian Diaspora (CID2, for short) attracted more than 5000 participants from around the world. The 3-day conference, held in Jakarta (August 18-20), is a project of the Indonesian government; it was opened officially by President Yudhoyono. The CID is designed both to support overseas Indonesians through networking, and to encourage them to apply their talents and resources toward Indonesian development.

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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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For the one year anniversary of the Forest Guardian program, Hotlin Ompusunggu, DDS, co-founder of ASRI, talks about its inception. Based on the core values and philosophy of HIH and ASRI - that community be at the center, involved in and own the solutions of change – Forest Guardians have inspired a 45% increase in villages that have totally stopped logging. Livelihoods and the fate of the Gunung Palung National Park, home to 2500 orangutans, are at stake. You can help by supporting a Forest Guardian for only $50 per month!

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