INDONESIA, Seram Island - July 2004
Rural health clinics and community health training/education in exchange for creation of a 370-acre rainforest no-take zone
Seram is the largest of the "Spice Islands" in the remote eastern region of Indonesia. Two villages on the northern coast of Seram, Sawai (Muslim) and Masihulan (Christian), live side by side in harmony with a combined population of 1,500 people. The health conditions in these villages are extremely poor, even by Indonesian standards. The villages are willing to sign a covenant to set aside 370 acres of pristine forest as a strict no take zone for a minimum of 50 years. In exchange for this sacrifice, in cooperation with Project Bird Watch, Seacology will fund basic but critically needed health facilities, formal medical training for village based health practitioners, and community health education. *
UPDATE January 2005 - In October 2004, Seacology Southeast Asia Field Representative Arnaz Mehta confirmed that the political situation in Ambon and the province of Maluku where Seram Island is located has remained peaceful for several months and that stability has returned to this region following the country's elections. The project began in November 2004.
UPDATE July 2005 - In November 2004 village dignitaries and the King of Sawai District officially designated an area of prime lowland forest set between branches of the Salawai River as a no-take Heritage site. Both village clinics are under construction and are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2005. Mantris (nurse practitioners) were hired for each village and are currently attending a month-long disease, hygiene and community health course in Bali. They have already completed a course on tuberculosis, arranged by the NGO Doctors Without Borders, and will continue to supplement their training as courses become available on Ambon. A health manual is being written and once printed will be distributed to villagers.
UPDATE September 2005 - The first clinic (in Masihulan Village) is essentially completed except for cabinets and ornaments. The basic structure of the second is now essentially complete as well, although it requires landscaping, and some work on windows, cabinets, and other interior free-standing items. Both clinics are likely to be completed this month or in early October. Many residents of Sawai (the Muslim village) have moved across the inlet to the small town of Olong. Since that is an extremely poor and underprivileged town, the clinic was constructed there. Solar-powered generators coupled to water purification systems are being transported from Ambon to their respective clinics on Seram. Refrigerators to hold medicines will be purchased as soon as the solar-powered generators are assembled and working.
UPDATE January 2006 - The two clinics have been completed and are operational. Both nurse practitioners have completed training in Bali. Small refrigerators to store medicine, to be powered by portable solar generators, have been purchased, as have solar-powered water purifiers. Work on a children's coloring book/hygiene manual will begin shortly. Project coordinator Dr. Stewart Metz of Project Bird Watch reports that the rainforest preserve is being honored by local communities and remains pristine.
UPDATE June 2006 - In 2005 the no-take site was formally signed and bound by the King of Sawai District, heads of both villages, and heads of surrounding villages. All signatories have permanent copies of the agreement. The clinic in Masihulan was completed, furnished and equipped with small refrigerators running on solar power for medicine in 2005. The clinic in Olong was also completed in early 2006 and officially dedicated by the King of Sawai District in April 2006. Both nurse practitioners completed medical training in Bali in 2005 and will continue their training as courses become available. Work on a children’s coloring book/hygiene manual will be completed in mid-2006.
UPDATE January 2007 - There have been some delays in finalizing water connection to the clinic at Olong. Project Birdwatch provided funding for temporary plumbing until the government installs permanent piping.