|Sukadana Bay - the more crowded, 'public' beach|
I'm most excited to have arrived at the end of a seven-year journey through medical education, which was a roller-coaster ride with many joys, but that often distanced me from my roots in community organizing and public health. It was a struggle for me to focus narrowly on biomedical maladies when so much of my patients' diseases resulted from social, economic, and political environments. I'm thankful for excellent training in family medicine, that will enable me to care for all ages and genders of patients, and that also prepared me to make clinic systems work better for underserved patients. But now, I have an amazing opportunity to apply these skills in a community setting, with direction from the local community, and with inclusion of environmental and social interventions. I've disembarked from this seven year journey into a place where I can bring it all together.
Here in Sukadana, on the west coast of Indonesian Borneo, we have found a community health program that answers local people's requests for medical care and disease prevention AND supports projects to decrease illegal logging, promote rainforest conservation, to ultimately preserve one of the few remaining natural habitats for orang-utan (people of the forest). Once we settle, I'll begin working alongside Indonesian doctors in the health center and mobile clinics, and begin exploring their public health programs that range from DOTS therapy for tuberculosis to delivery of goats to villages' widows. Jacquelyn has already started work in the organic garden and this week will accompany the environmental education coordinator to stakeholder meetings to address land use around the nearby national park.
Right now, I'm enjoying a cool midday breeze coming off the bay, truly relishing a breakfast of powdered milk, corn flakes and perfectly ripe local bananas, devouring a Nestle-crunch ice cream bar that a new best friend just bought me off the back of a motorbike that plays music just like the trucks in the states, and looking forward to diving into all the action tomorrow morning.