The inspiring story of the creation of an award-winning model for reversing rainforest loss and improving human well-being.
In 1993, as an undergraduate biology major, Webb traveled to Indonesia to study the dispersal of seeds by orangutans in the mountains of Gunung Palung National Park. She immediately fell in love with the land, the animals, and the people. After hearing her “least favorite sound: the whine of a chain saw in the far distance,” she learned that logging was one of the few ways the locals could make money to pay for health care. Watching the forests of Borneo disappearing, she “felt like my heart was being ripped out.” With the conviction that public health and the planet’s health are intrinsically intertwined, Webb returned to Indonesia after medical school and co-founded Alam Sehat Lestari (“healthy nature everlasting”). The organization initiated a reforestation program and a clinic to provide affordable health care to the community. Webb also founded Health in Harmony, an international nonprofit dedicated to fighting climate change by preventing the destruction of rainforests. In a compelling narrative, the author shares the details of her journey and the cultural nuances of the region. At the heart of her mission is the concept of “radical listening.” By actively engaging the community while building her program, she was able to create real and sustainable results. Webb dedicated herself wholeheartedly to her organizations, working long hours and making numerous sacrifices. She candidly shares the personal and physical struggles she endured, including a box jellyfish sting that nearly killed her. Having already created the framework for her program, Webb decided to expand her work beyond Borneo. “The human species may be deeply flawed,” she writes, “but we also have the capacity for beauty, transcendence, and unexpectedly rapid change.” Webb’s vision is notable for its focus on truly listening to community members, not just leaders.
A unique perspective that offers immense hope and direction for humanity in the face of climate change.