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Mother Robin Lim: 2011 CNN Hero of the Year

Every baby’s first breath on Earth could be one of peace and love. Every mother should be healthy and strong. Every birth could be safe and loving. But our world is not there yet.” – Robin Lim, 2011 CNN Hero of the Year

International news network CNN named Robin Lim, a Filipino-American midwife who helps poor women have healthy pregnancies and safe births, as 2011 CNN Hero of the Year.

She received the CNN Hero of the Year 2011 award from Anderson Cooper last Sunday in a star-studded ceremony at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. In her speech, she tearfully delivered a speech that tackled maternal care:

Today on our Earth, 981 mothers in the prime of their life will die — and tomorrow again and yesterday. And I’m asking you to help change that. We don’t even know how many babies are lost, but all of us can help change that.

Midwifery is not as popular here in the US as in other countries like Indonesia where Robin Lim has dedicated her life to helping women have safe deliveries. Pregnant women in the US have obstetricians to help them even though midwives offer lower maternity care cost compared to obstetricians. But in countries like Indonesia, hospital birthing services can range from $70 normal delivery/natural birth to $700 or more for a c-section and this amount is way too much when average families earn only $8 a day.

Good medical services which have become as normal or regular for Americans with the availability of doctors and nurses in nurses uniforms to help out and where technology is always available. While in South Asia three out of five women give birth without a skilled birth attendant on hand according to United Nations Population Fund. In Indonesia, medical care is somehow out of reach because it is costly. Babies can even be held at the hospital if mothers give birth and cannot pay which sometimes causes mothers to totally give up their babies for adoption because of their inability to pay for the services.

Mother Robin or Ibu Robin (as the locals call her) left Hawaii with her husband and moved to Bali after tragedy struck in her own life so many times, including losing her younger sister and her sister’s baby from pregnancy complications. In Indonesia, she discerned that pregnant women are 300 times more likely to die in the next 12 months than women who are not pregnant. Because health care services are really expensive, pregnant women are not able to get the much needed prenatal services.

And this is what Mother Robin did, offered her services to people in their homes until in 2003 she was able to open her first clinic and since then has been operating free clinics Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth) in Bali and Aceh with Indonesian midwives, doctors, nurses, housekeepers, and a chef. The clinics are where these men and women in nurses uniforms, some trained by Mother Robin herself, provide free prenatal, birthing, and medical care to the pregnant Indonesian women.

Annually, the CNN chooses the CNN Hero of the Year and from thousands of submissions from different countries of “individuals who go to extraordinary lengths to serve others.”

The triumph of Mother Lim will allow her to help others and save more lives as her non-profit Bumi Sehat Foundation will receive a $250,000 grant plus the additional $50,000 she also received just for being in the top 10.

She is truly a hero in every sense of the word who deserves all the help in the world.

About Mecheil Lewis