The summer after graduating from college, Kinari Webb traveled to Indonesia Borneo to study orangutans but after witnessing the devastating effects of deforestation in the region and realizing that it was negatively effecting the health of the community, she enrolled at Yale School of Medicine to become a doctor. Guardians of the Trees: A Journey of Hope Through Healing the Planet, is Webb’s memoir about her efforts to mitigate climate change and provide affordable health care to the people of Indonesia Borneo.
Forming two nonprofits, Health in Harmony in the U.S. and ASRI in Indonesia, Webb worked with her team to establish a health care clinic to heal both the people and the planet. With the realization that the people of Borneo were harvesting trees to pay for expensive health care treatments, Webb opened a free clinic, but after a patient threw away his antibiotic outside their door because he said that if something was free, it probably wouldn’t work, Webb and her team developed a barter system. Community members who needed health care could work on their organic farm or pay with vegetables or seedlings to replant the rainforest. Partnership was integral to her approach — calling together members of the community for listening sessions to brainstorm problems and solutions.
Webb lays bare some of her most intimate experiences in the process: her marriage to her husband, Cam, whom she met in Borneo, her early parentification by her divorced parents, and a devastating sting by a box jellyfish that derailed her plans for four years as she recovered. Guardians of the Trees is a moving account of one woman’s drive to heal the planet and its people. I highly recommend it for readers interested in climate change, health care, and humanity.
Listen to my author interviews the fourth Thursday of every month on Superior Reads at 7:00 pm on WTIP Radio, Grand Marais, Minnesota, or stream them from the web at http://www.wtip.org.