Health in Harmony

The vision for Health In Harmony began more than 15 years ago in the forests of Gunung Palung National Park where Dr Kinari Webb recognized the direct link between the environmental destruction wrought by illegal logging, the desperate state of human health in the communities around the park, and the impact of rain forest loss on health worldwide. Our comprehensive approach works at the intersection of human and environmental health to provide sustainable change in communities around the world.
Oct 15, 2013

Reforestation site burns, but hope burns brighter.

The Laman Satong fire
The Laman Satong fire

Dear Global Givers,

We have some very sad news to report this time around, but plenty of hope and inspiration as well.

At the end of September, a fast-moving fire devastated our reforestation site at Laman Satong, home to nearly 80,000 seedlings planted with love over four years. It swept over the twenty-hectare (nearly 50 acre) site in less than two hours, killing 95% of the trees despite the community’s rapid response and best efforts. Everyone at ASRI is heartbroken, but determined to move forward stronger than ever in our work to protect and restore the rainforest. The community’s reaction has shown us just how important replanting is: it is a symbol of hope and a reminder of how challenging it can be to replace what was lost. One man, viewing the aftermath of the fire, said he would think twice about logging again after seeing how hard it is to reforest.

The good news is that real progress is being made toward ending deforestation in Gunung Palung National Park! When we first began our red-green village system in 2010, giving “green” villages that have not illegally logged for the past 30 days a 75% healthcare subsidy, only three villages out of thirty qualified. This October, 12 villages have gone green! The local government has also begun to crack down on illegal logging: in August, two logging bosses with large illegal operations within the park were arrested. Our Forest Guardians were so excited by this news that they travelled en-masse to the new head of the National Park to demand action in other problem areas. Conservation is being taken seriously, and change is happening faster than we could have hoped.

ASRI Kids are a large part of this growing culture of conservation. Etty recently returned to Sukadana from a 6-week internship at the Oregon Zoo summer camp, where she and the zoo staff shared their environmental education expertise with each other. She came home invigorated with many new ideas on how to engage the ASRI Kids. (Watch our interview with her about her trip here.) With one recent after-school class increasing from the planned 25 children to 40 as more kids came to learn, we are excited to see how Etty engages them even more! And the kids are learning a lot: in the pre- and post-tests taken by the 200 children we taught in the 2012-2013 year, only 3% could name 3 benefits of the forest before the ASRI Kids classes. Afterwards, 71% could!

Our organic farming trainings are having similarly inspiring success. One farmer who participated in our training in sustainable agricultural methods shared the results from his half-hectare of rice cultivation:

 

Using non-organic methods:

Harvest 0: Yield 1 ton of rice (using 1.2 tons of chemical fertilizer costing $360)

Using organic methods:

Harvest 1: Yield 2 tons of rice (using 500 kg of organic fertilizer costing $15)

Harvest 2: Yield 3 tons of rice (using 300 kg of organic fertilizer at $9)

Harvest 3: Yield 3.7 tons of rice (using 300 kg of organic fertilizer at $9)

 

In other words, every year he is getting a larger yield and having to put less into his soil as it gets healthier and healthier, and he's doing this at a dramatically lower price. This is in direct contrast to how other farmers describe needing to increase the amount of chemical fertilizer every year to get a decreasing yield. 

The environment is becoming healthier and so are the people. Common disease symptoms have decreased across the board in the communities surrounding the park, and we’re even winning against the deadly chronic illnesses malaria and tuberculosis.  In 2008, we diagnosed 70 cases of malaria, and in 2012 we saw less than 12; tuberculosis cases have also gone from 40 in Sukadana in 2009 to 6 in 2012 with the help of ASRI’s DOTS (Directly Observed Therapy, Short-course) workers. We’re extremely proud of the work ASRI-trained healthcare workers of all types do, and ASRI is becoming a sought-after training center, thanks to our top-notch medical volunteers. One such volunteer, Yale-trained certified nurse-midwife Karen Ruby Brown, returned to ASRI in September to repeat her highly successful 2011 midwife trainings.  She was in such high demand that we had to schedule an unplanned second training during her trip!

All of ASRI’s services are in high demand, and to meet the community’s needs we are moving forward with the proposed Community Health, Surgical, and Training Center. Just last week, Kari Malen and Loren Bell, along with former volunteer Andrew MacDonald, and Health In Harmony supporters Ryan Bell, Brittni Milam, Darin Bell, and Luke Morehead ran the Portland Marathon to raise money for the new Center. They all finished admirably, and raised $2,725 – more than enough to fund the radiology room! We’re so impressed by both their running and fundraising efforts.

But as we’ve been reminded recently, it’s not as individuals or even small teams that we succeed. It truly takes an entire community: to plant a forest, to spread awareness, to change the face of global health. We could not do what we do without you, our Global Giving community, and we are incredibly grateful for your continued support.

Warmly,
Health In Harmony

Proud organic rice farmer
Proud organic rice farmer
Checking up on an infant
Checking up on an infant

Links:

Jul 24, 2013

Six Years of Health

A goat recipient and Dining for Women visitor
A goat recipient and Dining for Women visitor

Dear Global Givers,

I hope you are enjoying a sunny and adventurous summer. It is an exciting season for Health In Harmony and our program partner ASRI with an anniversary, a generous matching donation challenge, an upcoming marathon, a rewarding site visit, and ASRI Kids’ second summer. For us, this summer has been a time to celebrate ASRI’s anniversary and the success we have achieved through partnership with you. ASRI opened its clinic doors six years ago and began providing quality, affordable health care to the communities around Gunung Palung National Forest. Today, more than one third of the individuals living in those communities have come to ASRI to benefit from that care. The results from our five-year survey completed earlier this year gave us even more reason to celebrate. We see the health of the people and the ecosystems improving hand-in-hand.

The only limit to this success is physical space. Serving so many patients in addition to providing trainings in organic farming and other alternate livelihoods is stretching Clinik ASRI beyond its capacity. We recently received a building permit for a new Community Health, Surgical and Training Center and are working on a fundraising push. One very generous donor, Jan O’Brien, gave $10,000 to the center - a gift we are currently tripling for ASRI’s birthday! A gift that size would build the dental suite or three outpatient rooms or the radiology lab. Wow! You can read more about the progress on the new clinic on our website and blog.

HIH and ASRI staff is helping with the July fundraising goal by participating in the Portland Marathon, in our headquarter city in October.  ASRI Cofounder Hotlin Ompusunggu, fresh off a marathon in Indonesia, will run with Volunteer Coordinator Kari Malen and her husband Loren Bell, and donations to the team will go to the new clinic. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the team’s training and ways to donate. 

Since we last wrote, Kelsey has also posted albums on Facebook with photos from Michelle’s April trip to Sukadana with a group from Dining for Women. The women participated in a deeply meaningful Goats for Widows gifting ceremony that was the highlight of a powerful and emotional journey making connections across geography and language.

Finally, summer is also the season for ASRI Kids. This was the second summer for the program, and the children, families and our leaders continue to be very excited by the opportunity for local kids to learn about making paper, recycling, rainforest ecosystems and, the yearly highlight, taking a field trip into the national park. Even though these children live right on the park’s border, most have never visited, and they saw orangutans and other spectacular wildlife for the first time on this trip. This year’s class also had the serendipitous opportunity to meet Dr. Birute Galdikas, premier primatologist and the founder of Tanjung Putting National Park. One of the ASRI Kids cofounders, Ana Sofia, wrote a wrap-up of the summer with some great photos – you can read it on our blog here.

None of the success in health, reforestation or environmental education we have seen in the past six years could have happened without your support. When people like you see the connections between human and environmental health, lives and forests are saved. Please continue following our blog, our Facebook and our Twitter for the latest news about our July matching donations, the Portland Marathon training and more happenings in Portland and Sukadana. 

Thank you!

The vision for our new health center
The vision for our new health center
ASRI Kids in the national forest
ASRI Kids in the national forest

Links:

Apr 30, 2013

And a very happy Earth Day to all!

Bridge - intended for people, used by orangutans!
Bridge - intended for people, used by orangutans!

Dear Global Givers,

How was your Earth Day? We hope it was as green as ours and thank you to all those who chose to give in honor of our planet! Since January, thanks to you, so much as happened for us here at Health In Harmony and at our project partner, ASRI.

Some of our biggest news is that ASRI has secured a construction permit for the new, expanded Community Health and Training Center to expand the healthcare and training services offered. This was a long process of working conscientiously with local authorities, and we are thrilled to begin construction this summer.

Daring dentist and ASRI co-Founder Dr. Hotlin Ompusunggu is raising funds for a dental wing in that new community health center, by running in the Borneo International Marathon, to take place on May 5th! We've been calling it the "Marathon For Molars." (And, earlier this year, as part of her ongoing dental education of the community, there was a toothbrushing competition for the local kids. See photo below.)

Meanwhile, reforestation has continued apace. In February, reforestation at Laman Satong was completed, placing over 7350 seedlings in a 2 hectare (about 5 acre) plot of previously degraded land about two hours away from Sukadana. Reforestation has also been completed at the Sederhan Corridor (a gap between two areas of forest near Sukadana, ASRI's home base) - over 5000 seedlings! - and orangutans have been glimpsed using the plank bridge put up for humans to use during reforestation - we are so excited that orangutans, which spend over 95% of their lives in the trees, will be even more able to travel between these previously isolated forest regions once the trees grow!

The highly popular sustainable agriculture (organic farming) training programs continue. An ex-logger attested personally to the effectiveness of the program, saying, "The truth is that five years ago we were all loggers. We usually got one crop of rice and the rest of the time we logged. Now no one in this village logs because we now get two or three crops of rice and are making money in other ways. When I think back to how poor we were then, its amazing the change now that ASRI has made in our lives. And now we know about how important it is to protect the trees that produce oxygen." Wow. What an amazing shift!

And it's not just anecdotal - ASRI staffer, Agus Supianto, confirmed with his most recent survey of the villagers that since the program's inception in 2007, we have gone from three to TEN non-logging villages out of the thirteen surrounding Gunung Palung National Park!

In news of other alternative sustainable livelihoods training, Goats For Widows continues its success with increased animal stewardship trainings and distribution of goats to even more widowed women. In late April, cross-global connection is continuing, with a delegation from Dining For Women (a giving circle spanning the United States that selected HIH as the featured program in September 2012) visiting ASRI! Photos soon to come.

PS - Our director Michelle, and volunteer manager Kari, are currently conducting our annual site visit to ASRI - Check out Michelle's blog posts at the HIH Blog! We'll be sharing photos too: try Facebook or Twitter for more updates.

Dr. Hotlin Ompusunggu training for the marathon
Dr. Hotlin Ompusunggu training for the marathon
Tooth brushing competition
Tooth brushing competition
The Sederhan corridor, now reforested!
The Sederhan corridor, now reforested!

Links:

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