Hello Global Givers,
Two collaborative opportunities have come up at ASRI this spring that both recognize the impact your donations are having in the area, and both will make it possible for ASRI to do even more work to save forests with stethoscopes.
At the end of March, ASRI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Gunung Palung National Park Office (BTNGP), which allows the two organizations to better work together to achieve their shared aim of ending illegal logging in the park.
ASRI has partnered with the national park office since our founding in 2007, but without a formal relationship, they could not realize all the benefits of collaboration. Now, ASRI can more effectively share the results of the Forest Guardians' on-the-ground monitoring efforts to assist with enforcing logging laws within the park. Further, ASRI will use the systems already in place to maintain alternative livelihoods programs BTNGP is able to start with government funding. BTNGP can now also grant ASRI greater access to the park for educational purposes like ASRI Kids field trips.
The MoU is a critical step in conserving the rainforest. ASRI and BTNGP are two of most powerful actors in this fight and have now teamed up to pool their already significant resources. Together, we will be able to educate more, train more, enforce more - all leading to less desire, need and ability to cut down trees and destroy the precious Gunung Palung habitat. Please read more about the MoU on our blog.
Second, just last week, ASRI Cofounder Dr. Hotlin Ompusunggu and Health In Harmony Executive Director Michelle Bussard attended the Forests Asia Summit 2014 in Jakarta. Organized by CIFOR and co-hosted by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, the summit invited leaders and stakeholders from Southeast Asia to share knowledge and best practices for managing forests. ASRI was recognized by this group as a significant contributor to rainforest conservation in Borneo and asked to participate in this event to influence social and economic policy in a sustainable direction. I haven't heard their final take on the week yet, but I feel sure that, as with everywhere the HIH model is represented, people were impressed and inspired by what donors like you have accomplished with a small clinic next to a rainforest.
It has taken years of visionaries, like all of you Global Givers, who have seen the connections between human and environmental health then invested in the communities in West Kalimantan. The world is now taking notice of all you have accomplished in partnership with those communities. I am so excited about these two recent capacity-building opportunities because they represent the ways is which ASRI is growing to tackle problems the size of climate change, human health crises, and poverty. Thank you, thank you Global Givers for being the first to believe they have what it takes.
Til next time,
Hello Global Giving donors!
I am writing to you today all the way from Sukadana – no better place to send an ASRI update than from the clinic itself! This is my sixth and final week on site, and I feel a great privilege to have witnessed the change you are making in this part of the world through your support.
In March and April, the Health In Harmony staff is joined on site by two trips of donors here to experience ASRI firsthand. It has been and will continue to be a joy to share this time and place with them! The second group of eight begins their journey this weekend; and just a few weeks ago we had two amazing women on site that both gained and contributed some very special moments.
Dr. Karin volunteered in 2008 and returned with us almost six years later to a project that has grown in many ways. In addition to fun stories of roads that were unpaved and muddy arrivals at clinic in the morning, Karin had some beautiful insights into how the relationships with volunteer doctors has over the years increased the professionalism and quality of care at Klinik ASRI. In Karin, I saw someone who truly believes in the mission of Health In Harmony and has been gratified to see it succeed. In an interview with her, she told us “I have to say it’s a strange vision to combine health care with saving the rain forest, but when you understand how those two pieces go together, it makes total sense… the vision, it really turned out to be such a good one that it attracts people who are willing to invest their big hearts in this place.” Read more of her interview on our blog!
This time around, she had the chance to see some of the pieces that have emerged over the years since she has been here, as a result of adding those new people with their big hearts and big ideas to the mix. We visited Simbilan Gunung, a village with nine widows who have received goats from ASRI, and talked with a woman celebrating the birth of her 23rd goat that morning! Karin also spent time with Etty at ASRI Kids on an afternoon when her class was learning how to make recycled paper, and she watched as they pressed in decorative flowers and carefully squeezed out all the water. We also learned about the research on methods of reforestation at Sedehan and trekked through both control and experimental sites. Karin kept busy receiving a well-rounded view of programs!
Dr. Lori also had a very poignant experience in her time at ASRI. Though she has followed the project from before it was a reality, this was her first opportunity to visit. But it came at the perfect time! Lori, also a surgeon, recently made a commitment to sponsor Dr. Ronald’s surgical residency, after which he will return to ASRI for five years – hopefully ASRI will then have a hospital for him to operate in! Lori and Ronald spent three days in the clinic, working together and learning from one another, but also forming personal bonds that both say will now last a lifetime. The two were even able to visit the hospital Ronald is applying to for residency, giving Lori the opportunity to approve its quality and rigor and visualize it in the future. Drs. Lori and Ronald both shared with us that the time together in person has made them family – a testament to the power of visiting ASRI!
We know not everyone can experience this special place in person. But after seeing our donors on site, we are committed to bring ASRI to you as best we can! We have been posting frequent updates and pictures on our blog. I encourage you to sign up for our email list as we will continue to share stories from the trips and our volunteer voices through April. March also saw big announcements about a $100,000 gift from a MacArthur fellow and a new memorandum of understanding with the Gunung Palung National Park you can read about on the blog.
More than ever before, I am sending heartfelt gratitude to each one of you for making this place possible. Being at ASRI, I assure you your gifts are changing lives every day and making huge contributions to the future through restoring and protecting the beautiful and vital environment here.
My warmest wishes,
Trina, HIH Development Associate
Happy New Year Global Giving Supporters! All of us here at Health In Harmony hope that your holidays were warm and rejuvenating and your 2014 is full of promise and big dreams.
We last wrote to you about the devastating fire at the Laman Satong reforestation site. We wrote that hope burned brighter than the fire, and the months since have proved that to be more than true thanks to you, our loving community. The outpouring of support was encouraging to our team on both sides of the world, and ASRI reforested Laman Satong in November. There was much more regrowth than initially suspected, more than 50 community members came out to work and the National Park office contributed many of their own seedlings - all factors adding to a successful replanting. See attached pictures.
The best news for the forest, however, is that logging continues to decrease more and more! The second worst village for logging when ASRI started just signed a memorandum of understanding with us in November, pledging to work with ASRI to reduce illegal logging in exchange for discounts at the clinic (which increase if they go green and eradicate logging). This village was one of two that had not signed an MOU, but one month later, they had almost completely ended logging! And the worst village when we started, which had 26 chainsaw crews in 2007, went green in December! This is truly incredible news. We had so much to be grateful for at the end of 2013. Top of the list was you, our donors. Your gifts provided the seedlings replanted at Laman Satong, the clinic discounts that incentivize an end to illegal logging, the organic farm training turning loggers into farmers and so many more programs in Indonesia. In short, none of these amazing gains in rainforest protection would have happened without you!
A quick domestic update, as well: in November, we had our annual board meeting in November and mapped future directions for Health In Harmony as well as celebrated successes. Our wonderful founder, Dr. Kinari Webb, has been in the United States for the first time in two years, visiting friends, family and supporters up and down both coasts and fundraising like a champion for upcoming projects at ASRI. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for times and places of events in the next two weeks in New Haven, CT and Washington DC.
Our hope for 2014 is to hear to what you, our community, thinks. Please be in touch with any questions or desires about the direction of these world-changing organizations this year. You do so much for the world, let us know what we can do for you. And if you would like to go see the programs your donations create, join us either March 9-19 or April 14-23 for an exclusive trip to ASRI! Email us for more details.
As always, thank you for everything you do.
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
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.
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