Engage community-led solutions for human health and the health of our planet.
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Alexiandrea Borden is a photographer who has donated her incredible prints for ASRI's Community Hospital and Training Center. They are featured prominently in ASRI's patient areas and community meeting room, reminding staff and visitors that our shared climate means icebergs in Greenland rely on healthy rain forests in Borneo - as trees fall, the ice melts. Her work has even inspired our ASRI Teens to begin conservation outreach in local shops!
Today, Alexiandrea shares her experience below of photographing these icy wonders and has made her prints available for you to order from our Gift Shop! We will continue to add more of her beautiful photos to our shop over time, and please let us know if you find one you love that's not available yet.
Guest blog by Clare Wolfowitz, Ph.D.
What works? Carefully designed community outreach works. And community capacity-building works. Here’s how.
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.
February and March’s latest and greatest reads on deforestation, global health, and everything in between.
My first week at ASRI was an orientation: seeing the programs in action, putting faces to names, and creating connections with the community. My first week also marked a tough transition for the ASRI staff: it was Dr. Vina’s last week, after 3 years at ASRI, the last one as head of clinic. Despite her departure, things seemed to be going business as usual, the Clinic bustling as it is most days, with conservation education in the waiting room, volunteers crammed around the table in the back, and patients moving in and out. Even on the toughest day, when there were two suspected cases of tuberculosis, Dr. Vina was steadfast, working with the team to figure out how to best help the patients. It was only when I found her stealing a moment to take a breath did she tell me, “I’m trying not to think about the fact that I’m leaving.”
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!
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).
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.
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.
Three exciting opportunities developed in the last few months that are all serving to place Health In Harmony and our founder, Dr. Kinari Webb, in a position of innovative leadership around the globe. The recognition from Rainer Arnhold, Ashoka, and the CLASSY Awards will help the model gain further attention and traction as it grows in your mission of saving the world's rainforests with a stethoscope.
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.
Each week this month, we’re bringing you fresh perspectives on ASRI’s work from some of the people who know it best: our volunteers.
Dr. Anna Arroyo is a third year medical resident on the Global Health track at Stanford. She volunteered at ASRI for six weeks, and we had the chance to sit down together at the beginning of March right before she left to talk about what she contributed to ASRI and what she is taking home.
The gibbons sing their howls. Motorbikes zoom by. ASRI Clinic hosts a few in-patients. The “plastics” truck eases by with its familiar tune, calling customers. Sun beats down as the morning breeze all but disappears. A day like any other and most, except that after three years, Dr. Nur Chandra Bunawan (Dr. Nur) departed ASRI yesterday amid tears and joy and, yes, trepidation to gain his residency in Internal Medicine.
The ogoh-ogohs are nearly done. Devil creatures with ponderous breasts, big bellies, fangs, claws and bulging eyes. Some are three or four stories high, others the height of doorway. Some are being constructed by groups of older men and young boys, some by groups of older boys. On Balinese New Year, 30 March, the parading and burning will begin followed by a day of total silence throughout the island: everywhere, everyone. I think about the hundreds of ogoh-ogohs tucked under porches and temple roofs, of young boys learning from uncles and fathers, and of the thousands of offerings by women, young and old.
September is Save Your Sight month, dedicated to eradicating preventable blindness around the globe.
39 million people are blind worldwide. Eighty percent of visual impairments can be avoided or cured; yet huge numbers of people continue to struggle with serious vision problems. Why? Ninety percent of the visually impaired live in developing countries, where they often cannot access or afford the treatment they need. (WHO 2012)
Earlier this month, I spoke with Diane Dakin, a family doctor based in Olympia, Washington who recently volunteered at ASRI, helping to train newly-graduated Indonesian doctors and organizing a training for local midwives.
She's been working as a family doctor for the past 28 years, including over 25 years doing low-risk obstetrics. She estimates she's delivered over 1,000 babies! I asked her how she heard of Health In Harmony, and she told me the story of chance connections that led her to volunteer. In her own words, "It was a coming together of all sorts of little connections, that made it seem like, 'I should look into this place!' … I was reading the Yale alumni magazine, and I saw an article about a woman – Kinari Webb, the founder of ASRI - who initially had been an orangutan researcher. Since my youngest son was studying chimps, I was interested, so I read it… Later, after medical school, it turned out that she had gone to the same family practice residency that I had gone to many years earlier. I thought, 'the ASRI program sounds really interesting,' and knowing that I had a sabbatical coming up, I wrote and asked if they needed a Family Medicine volunteer and they said 'sure!'"
Rosevan is taking the Borneo Bicycle Challenge, and will be blogging about it on Health In Harmony’s website throughout the fall. Want to do it yourself? It's not too late to take the challenge – register now!
Every day in October, November, and December, as part of Health In Harmony’s Borneo Bicycle Challenge, I'll ride my bike to work, home, the grocery store, you name it. I’ll do it rain or shine, but mostly rain, because this is Portland and we get 42 inches of rain on average each year. Near our own patches of temperate rainforest, I ride to support a project in a tropical rainforest halfway around the world.
Gearing up in my effective but extremely unflattering rainsuit, I'll remind myself: I am doing this to reduce my own environmental impacts, and in solidarity with the communities around Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. They not only get around by bicycle every day, for every purpose, but also - thanks to the efforts of our partner ASRI - contribute to the conservation, reforestation, and stewardship of one of the most biodiverse, and carbon-absorbing, rainforests on the planet.