Dr. Ronald Natawidjaja, one of the doctors who has served at ASRI since 2012, was recently accepted into his residency in general surgery, which will begin in January. We are so excited to offer heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Dr. Ron!

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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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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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I find it very appropriate that my trip to Indonesia was bookended by goats. A little more than two years ago, I wrote my master’s thesis at the University of Montana on international community development, focusing particularly on women’s roles. That interest meant the Goats for Widows program was what initially drew me to Health In Harmony. Though my appreciation now extends to each of ASRI’s programs, last Tuesday, standing in the road outside of Pak Rapi’s house (a local village leader), I remembered that original excitement, and it added to the joy of seeing smiles on the faces of eight women collecting their new kambing.

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Michelle Bussard and most of the Health In Harmony staff are currently in Sukadana, preparing to welcome a group of donors to ASRI in just a few days' time. We will be featuring blogs about the on-the-ground ASRI experience during this time.

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October 18th 2013 is Anti-Slavery Day

Although slavery seems very far removed from our work in healthcare and conservation, the truth is that forced labor comes much closer to home than we’d like to think. The Walk Free Foundation released the first Global Slavery Index yesterday, cataloguing the estimated prevalence of modern slavery around the world. [1] Their interactive map is an eye-opening and heartbreaking tour of the world. In Indonesia, the home of our project partner ASRI,  an estimated 200,000 to 220,000 people are enslaved there.

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Between July 6 and August 9, Etty Rahmawati, ASRI’s Conservation Education & Outreach Manager, gained as many insights into the USA, her volunteer, staff and Board hosts as we gained inspiration from her and connection to something bigger. That something bigger is Alam Sehat Lestari, healthy nature everlasting, or ASRI, beautiful, and ASRI Kids, the program inspired by volunteers and led by Etty.  This is a story about those connections and why they are the very fiber of what we do and why it works. It is also a story about raising funds for the future: While on the west coast, Etty helped raise more than $10,000 between a ZACC grant and our generous Health In Harmony family of donors.  Will you help match the gift and help support ASRI Kids and its promise for the future? You are our connection to success.

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We were lucky enough to have Mariam Soumah  intern with us for a month in the Portland Health In Harmony office. She was a wonderful addition to the office and did a lot of great work in the short time she was here. This is her account of her time with HIH. Thanks for all you did, Mariam!

Guest blog by Mariam Soumah

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The Clinic sees more patients every year

And we need to make room for the steadily-increasing number of patients. The high volume of patients is evidenced in long wait times for treatment and crowded waiting areas (indoor and out).

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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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Tanjung Putang National Park - On the Dolphin

Three days ago, leaving in the dark from Sukadana, there was a telltale shadow of trepidation about spending 3 nights on boats of unknown shape, size or origin with 18 women in humidity and heat between 92-96 degrees, destination: Tanjung Putang National Park.

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Morning meeting is packed with ASRI staff and the delegation from Dining for Women who arrive this morning bearing gifts of medical supplies, medical library books, hundreds of eyeglasses, medicines and medical supplies adding to the already delivered ski bag of aluminum crutches and ambulatory boots. Name your most wonderful holiday tradition, and multiply it by 10 and you have a sense of the joy in clinic that morning. Morning meeting is also packed with final preparations for Green Day tomorrow (April 25) at the Lamong Satong nursery, about 90 minutes from Sukadana. More to follow! The excitement of all is palpable as the 12 women that are here are here because of a very generous $33,000 grant from Dining for Women in support of the Goats for Widows program.

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After 5 years of life in Asia – 3 of which were spent at ASRI – being back stateside is strange.

No doubt, there is much to relish - rekindling spirits with family and friends, eating foods that don't appear in Bornean village markets, driving a car anywhere at anytime of the day. But the most striking piece that I keep coming back to is the disconnect I feel here in anytown, America. I find myself wondering, where do we find community?

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