The LearnToLive’s Indonesian Health Initiative 2013 has finished and was an even greater success than we’d hoped. All of our amazing crew is either safely back home, on to new adventures, or scouting ahead for the new locations LearnToLive is going to expand into. Looking back on what we did in just three short weeks it’s a testament to the skill and dedication of our crew that we accomplished so much.
We saw over a thousand patients in our health clinics, and with a medical team almost double the size of last year we were able to spend more time working with each of our patients, and deliver more comprehensive health education to the communities. We expanded our preventative health education program by teaching local children about the importance of handwashing and how to build a handwashing station out of discarded plastic bottles.
In addition to expanding the clinics in our target villages of Sapa, Beringin, Likupang, and Bunaken, we expanded onto the remote island of Siladen, a community of one hundred families that has no access to health care of clean drinking water.
We also for the first time had patients in our Likupang clinics that had heard of our clinics and had come from the surrounding islands with their children on boats to get help. We’re hoping to expand our clinics onto these islands in the coming years, and will be scouting them in the coming months.
One of the biggest accomplishments of all was the implementation of LTL’s Rain Water Catchment System at the local school in Sapa put in by the LTL Clean Water Team, headed by Mara Lepere-Schloop and joined this year by Australian water engineer Jack Timmins. The team worked with the school children and local community members to build a surprisingly simple system to catch, store, and treat rainwater into clean drinking water for the school children.
The design of the system, co designed by Mara and Abigail Feldman, is made to be simple and cost effective enough that the local people can copy and make their own versions of it at home. LTL also implemented its Water is Life education program, taught by Karel Turang, which taught all the students of Sapa about rain water, clean water, and how the rain water catchment system works, and how they can build their own at home. Prior to this system, the parents of the school children were spending upwards of twenty five percent of their already precious household income on drinking water, and when often they could not afford it would have to resort to drinking the brackish or dirty well water they had access to. Our aim is to not only have provided a source of clean drinking water for the community, we have provided the knowledge and ability to a community to provide clean drinking water for themselves.
Our three college students that joined the trip, Michael, Claire, and Cooper proved themselves to be valuable members of the team, and had an adventure of a lifetime. Some of our translators were also from the college in Tomohon, and as always our translators went above and beyond their roles to make such an important contribution to our team. Their tireless work ethic and engaging, empathetic attitudes contributed so much to the work we did in our clinics.
Besides just expanding the number of Australian and American doctors and nurses that we had on the trip, we were also joined by several new Indonesian doctors and nurses, brought on by our Chief Indonesian Doctor Levie Golioth. Our Indonesian crew brought valuable local expertise to our project and it was inspiring to have our Western and Indonesian doctors working together and learning from each other.
It speaks to the very heart of what we do at LearnToLive, which is more than just clean water, healthcare, and education. It’s also about the exchange of cultures and ideas, and people interacting who might otherwise not and gaining a better understanding of the world and how similar we all really are. Levie and our other Indonesian friends are now taking up the banner of LearnToLive Indonesia to provide round the year follow up with our patients and to continually provide care for those that need it.
2013 is turning into a banner year for LearnToLive, and will be remembered by us as the year all our projects really started in full force. Our Indonesian Health Initiative was an even bigger success than last year, and we laid the groundwork to expand it even more next year.
The Clean Water project implemented the first of it’s rainwater catchment systems, proving that the model is effective, and that we can teach by example how people can build more in other communities.
Thanks again to our amazing crew of doctors, nurses, students, translators, filmmakers, artist in residence, coordinators, and support staff, everyone proved themselves to be an invaluable and passionate team member again. The world is lucky to have individuals such as yourselves.