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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Throughout this week, we featured the stories of four Forest Guardians who are committed to the program and protecting the rain forest. You can find their individual stories on our Facebook: Wawan, Amir, Samsu, and Ridwan. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram to see campaigns like these in the future. #FacesOfTheForest

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Sometimes you start things but you have no idea where they will go. That is what happened when we hired Ibu Hamisah to be one of our village health workers six years ago. She was a shy woman from a village about half an hour away from our clinic who had very little self confidence. Six years later, you won't believe what has happened to her! 

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Monica Ruth Nirmala, DDS is part of a proud, if new, tradition in Borneo: dentists saving the rainforest. This month, she follows in the footsteps of internationally celebrated dentist and conservation inspiration Dr. Hotlin Ompusunggu by becoming the Executive Director of Alam Sehat Lestari (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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On one of my last days in Sukadana, I talked with my friends Dr. Nomi and Dr. Yuli, ASRI’s two newest physicians, about why they chose ASRI and what they like about working in the clinic. Both women are passionate about serving their patients and driven to learn and improve. They were drawn to ASRI as a clinic that meets the standards of care they aim to provide.

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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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We are launching a campaign to build a full-service Community Health and Training Center at ASRI.

Today, the ASRI Clinic is crowded far beyond capacity. Patients have long waiting times for treatment, and in some cases must return another day. Moreover, the clinic lacks facilities to treat more serious injuries and emergencies, or to provide simple surgeries and inpatient care.

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