We're sharing this beautifully written guest post from Maleeha Malik, a recent visitor to our Indonesian partners Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI). Maleeha describes her visit and ASRI's life changing impact. The original post can be found on Maleeha's blog: Ke Mana? Stories from Asia

"Two weeks ago, I visited Alam Sehat Lestari, or ASRI for short, an NGO in West Kalimantan that is dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare for communities around Gunung Palung National Park. The name Alam Sehat Lestari literally translates to ‘nature healthy sustainable’; ASRI translates to ‘beautiful’. It is exactly this idea of linking healthcare to a healthy environment that ASRI is trying to promote."

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We often call our Journey to Borneo an opportunity to travel with a purpose. Visiting ASRI and Indonesia is an experience like none other, and, as this year's travelers say in the video at the bottom of this post - it will change your life. But why? What is it about seeing planetary health in action that makes such a difference?
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Trina Noonan, Health In Harmony's Managing Director, is currently in Borneo visiting our pilot program Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI). Seeing the beautiful new hospital building, and signs of economic development in Sukadana, along with ASRI's successful reforestation initiatives, Trina reflects on how the region has developed over the years.

When my boat driver pulled out his smart phone, it was a bit of a shock. He casually scrolled through Instagram as we sped past the dense mangrove forests and wooden homes perched on stilts over the river.  That's when I realized how quickly things have been changing.
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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?

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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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April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. Each week this month, we'll be featuring new perspectives on ASRI’s work from some of the people who know it best: our volunteers.


Dame Idossa is a Yale medical student who volunteered with the ASRI Clinic in late 2014. During her time on-site, she had a great deal of hands-on experience and took away many lessons on the realities of delivering health care in rural settings.

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April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. Each week this month, we'll be featuring new perspectives on ASRI’s work from some of the people who know it best: our volunteers.


Chelsea Call is a skilled photographer and yoga instructor from Colorado and was drawn to the volunteering position because she felt passionately about ASRI's mission. While on site in late 2014, she served as a volunteer photographer of ASRI's various programs and even taught yoga classes!

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April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. Each week this month, we'll be featuring new perspectives on ASRI’s work from some of the people who know it best: our volunteers.


Derek Richardson is a Clinical Instructor and Physician at the University of California, San Francisco General Hospital and served as an attending physician at the ASRI Clinic in January 2015. He was drawn to Health In Harmony for the "interesting and valuable goal in providing health care inside a larger umbrella of resource and community awareness" and discusses his experience on Mobile Clinic trips while volunteering with ASRI.

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Guest blog by Etty Rahmawati

The word Adiwiyata is derived from 2 words in Sanskrit; ‘adi’ and ‘wiyata.’ ‘Adi’ means big, great, ideal, or perfect, while ‘wiyata’ means a place to get knowledge, norms and ethics in social life. The Adiwiyata program is run by the Indonesia Ministry of Environment, whose aim is to raise knowledge and awareness of environmental conservation among students and faculty in schools. They do this by paying close attention to how lessons are taught and making sure should they are linked to environmental awareness. They also teach the 3 R’s (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle) and manage gardens for medicinal plants, etc.

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Sukadana Rooster

Photo: Trina Jones

The soundtrack in Sukadana is thunder rolling and roosters crowing. I hear gibbons and children welcoming the day with their shouts and songs as I walk to the clinic in the morning and I hear chickens rustling in the leaves as I rinse with the cool water of the mandi in the open air shower. I learn to listen for motorbikes as I ride my bicycle in the cool breezes of the evenings and slowly start interpreting the rolling r’s of the Bahasa that is spoken around me each day.

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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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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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Guest blog by Chris Woerner

Waking up in Sukadana for me is an auditory adventure in itself. From the distant rainforest the exotic siren-like whoops and howls of the kelempiau, the White Faced Gibbons, drift through the mist into my window. Closer by, the cheerful, bubbly song of the Yellow-Vented Bulbul perched outside in shrubbery contrasts with the surprisingly loud, harsh croaking of the Cik-Cak gecko in the rafters above my head. Suddenly a new sound begins: the powerful soul-stirring wail of human song: the morning “Call to Prayer” coming from the village mosque.

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All photos by family doctor Diane Dakin, a volunteer with Health In Harmony at ASRI. Click on any photo to see slideshow (you may need to wait a moment for photos to load).

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Earlier this month, ASRI's Education Coordinator, Etty Rahmawati, spoke with two women who live near the ASRI clinic about their uses of, and feelings about, water. Give now to support a system of wells and water for women like Nur Hayati and her family. Read on for profiles of these strong and capable women - and look for more stories of remarkable women in September's issue of the newsletter.

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Guest blog by Deepa Agashe

Too often and in various ways, our species has trampled over other life forms, perhaps forgetting that we are all intimately connected. I do not use “connected” in a hippie-holistic way – I say “linked” in the scientific sense, with a long legacy of previous research supporting my choice of word.

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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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Kari and Loren pay their respects at a temple in Bali.

This summer wonderful Volunteer Manager Kari Malen will be moving back to the U.S. with her husband Loren Bell who, in his own words, has been pursuing a graduate degree in "ecology, free-lance writing and chasing gibbons" in the rainforest near Sukadana. Loren has also helped ASRI in many ways including by providing fire suppression training for our reforestation crew.   As Kari and Loren contemplate their leaving, I asked her what she would most love as a parting gift.

Will you join me in giving Kari a gift of thanks?

What Kari really wants is a bit unusual: the gift of knowing that the ASRI conservation program is in good hands. With Kari moving on and Pak Ngalim, our current conservation manager and organic farming coordinator, moving to a consulting role, we want to combine their jobs and hire a new conservation manger who can act as liaison and ASRI conservation staff manager. There are two ways you can help!

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Guest blog by Jessica Crawford

Having heard wonders about ASRI since beginning medical school at Yale in 2006, I am now delighted to be the first American medical student to participate in ASRI on the ground in Sukadana and other small villages around Gunung Palung National Park. Here are some of my reflections from an incredible six weeks in Indonesia.

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