Guest blog by Mike Kanaga
My wife Peggy and I recently had the privilege of traveling to Indonesia to tour the ASRI facility in Borneo as part of the 2015 Health In Harmony Friendship Tour. We both had a bit of trepidation about this trip – half way around the world, different culture and language, unfamiliar food and surroundings, etc. However, after completing the trip I can say without reservation that I found every aspect of the 3 weeks to be fascinating.
Guest blog by Ana Sofia Wang
Just a month ago, a project that started as a small idea experienced its second year of success when a group of 17 students traveled all the way from their remote villages to surrounding the Gunung Palung National Park to Tanjung Puting National Park. The students were chosen from 4 schools to take their first trip away from home and first ever plane flight to experience firsthand the beauty of protected rain forest. One of the most amazing things the kids learn on the trip is that people from all over the world want to come and see where organgutans live. This realization gives them a sense of pride in where they come from and in their rain forest. Watching these discoveries and being involved in those small magical moments was, for me, the most valuable thing in the world. For my sister and I, coming back to work with ASRI Kids’ amazing teacher and coordinator Etty, has been monumental. These past two years visiting the classrooms, meeting the kids, going on the field trips, I have realized it is not only us who are teaching the kids, but the kids have a lot to teach us too. Their eagerness to learn and constant curiosity gives me hope for their future.
Gliding up the Sekonyer River towards Camp Leaky late that first day, it seemed impossible to be transported so completely by a mere 45 minute plane excursion to this place. In the wake of this long day, I let my eyes close on the soothing rustle of Nipa palms hugging in ever closer as we slip up the river in our cradle boat. I miss the silent demarcation with the turn up the Simpan Kanan River and out of the the Sekonyer River's water, mudded by an upstream gold mining operation. In this slow moving narrow channel, the black water river runs clear and cooler. Captain Iyan nestles the boat into its nightly berth against the sturdy Nipa palms, snugs and ties up the other two along side and with that all 18 of us gather on the largest deck of the boats at a long table for a family style dinner. It is a feast of fish in spicy pepper sauce, cap cay, wilted jack fruit greens, sambal, fruits, tempe and the ubiquitous rice served with a water elixir. As we eat, the deck hands make light work of pulling out 18 mattresses, setting beds across the 3 top decks of each boat. A dark night heavy with heat falls quickly and we slip beneath the dreamy gauze of mosquito nets where a single sheet awaits atop each mattress. Like a lullaby, the chorus of crickets thrums us fast asleep.