Receiving an invitation for the Independence Day Ceremony in the Presidential Palace was something that Pak Noor never dreamed of. Yet, on August 17th, 2016, he was there - invited by Indonesian President Joko Widodo as one of the "Outstanding Farmers" representing the Kayong Utara Regency in West Kalimantan. So, who is Pak Noor?
Almost 10 years after ASRI was founded, the number of loggers living outside of Gunung Palung National Park is down to ±180*, a significant decline from an estimated 1,300+ in 2007. At this point, the ASRI staff knows each of the remaining loggers personally and is working to find solutions that are tailored to each logger’s needs.
I remember the first time I ever saw a patient pay for medical care with tree seedlings at the ASRI Clinic. Pak Hamsu, a patient from the village of Laman Satong where our main reforestation site is located, had amassed medical bills totaling over $375 at the ASRI Clinic after he had a severe stroke in April 2013. When he finally died, his family did not have enough money to repay the debt. So his nephew Jhony repaid the debt the only way he knew how: raising tree seedlings, grown from the seeds collected in the nearby forest that his village has protected for generations.
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.
It was a big week in Sukadana! In between meetings with the contractors, the team met with the local community throughout the week for “Community Socialization” gatherings. They discussed the details of the hospital and community benefits, and the space allowed members of the community to come forward to voice their questions, thoughts, and concerns regarding the hospital.
DIANE DAKIN – Physician
"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."
Guest blog by Christina Fitch, DO, MPH
As a doctor, I work in several settings. But, the thing that everyone wants to talk to me about is my volunteer work with Health In Harmony (HIH). Likely this is because it is the component of my work that I feel most passionate about and it shows. Having just returned from six weeks in Sukadana, I am still radiating with joy at what we were able to accomplish and what I am at the heart of in my service to HIH as a member of our dedicated Board of Directors.
Not long ago, Health In Harmony and ASRI founder Dr. Kinari Webb, was joined where she sat in the shade, admiring the forests of Gunung Palung National Park. A man approached, sat down, and sighed in satisfaction.
"That's my rice field," he said.
Last week was full-up with organic farm training. Part of that was going out to the farms that the participants started after the last training. The participants all immediately adopted organic methods after the last training, and...the gardens are huge! There are so many vegetables being grown! And people are now really making money. They all say that organic fertilizer is not only cheaper but also more effective: their vegetables are growing much better than they used to. In one garden, the price of the ingredients for the organic fertilizer was $1 for 600 plants; previously they would have paid $26 for chemical fertilizer for a result that they say was not as good.