In Indonesia, there is an incredible organization called Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth) Foundation. Led by midwife, author, mother of 8 and grandmother, Ibu (“Mother”) Robin Lim, who is one of the nominees for CNN Hero of 2011, the organization serves 17,000 clients and helps deliver 600 babies per year.
The numbers are extraordinary, but what’s more extraordinary is how they have succeeded to build an organization fully funded through private donations to provide birthing services and other health care services for women and families who can’t afford to give birth. And this is all because one woman had the dedication, the passion, the love and absolute commitment to change the world.
Giving birth is no ordinary task anywhere, but in the communities around Bumi Sehat, it is an incredible challenge, because people who don’t have the money can’t afford to give birth in a hospital. In fact, the hospitals won’t let the mothers take their babies until they’ve paid – this situation sometimes resulting in the baby being taken away from the mother to adoption.
Ibu Robin moved to Bali with her husband in 1994, after she lost her best friend, one of her midwives and also her sister and her sister’s baby, one after another. Her sister died in childbirth, along with the baby. Instead of being stuck in her deep sorrow, she sold her house in Hawaii and moved to Bali with her husband to start anew, to “reinvent” their lives, and there she saw a rampant need for pregnancy and infant care. She began to provide free services to pregnant women and children out of her home. She dedicated herself, her life, to serve families. Over the next decade, as the demand grew, others joined her efforts to establish their first clinic in Ubud, Bali.
After the Sumatra tsunami in 2004, Robin’s organization was among the first to respond, with medical supplies and health services for the most devastated region of Aceh.
“With or without electricity, with or without running water, we midwives can deliver babies,” Robin convincingly says.
Centered around post-disaster healing, they established their second clinic in Aceh, where they provide maternity care and general health care services to people in need. With 9,000 consultations and 75 births per year at this location, it is clear that Bumi Sehat was a much-needed sanctuary and it has clearly been making a tremendous difference in saving lives.
One of the leading causes of death for women in Bali is hemorrhaging after childbirth. Not only is maternal and infant mortality at birth is among the highest in all of Asia, but “a child in Indonesia is 300 times more likely to die if they are on infant formula,” explains Robin. The fight for survival is not just malnutrition during pregnancy and not getting care during childbirth because they can’t afford childbirth – it extends to the postpartum period as well. This is why they educate women and families on breastfeeding at their clinics as part of postpartum care.
Robin and her team have a goal, that every woman, women of all economic backgrounds, can give birth gently, and of course, midwifery is an essential part of this.
What does this have to do with the rest of us in the birthing world – both mothers and professionals alike?
This isn’t just a remote cause in a remote location. Ibu Robin is creating a massive shift in consciousness, bringing the power of birth back to the woman, one birth at a time. She is the voice for all women, who have a right to safe, gentle, and natural birth practices.
Would you like to help for the sake of safe birthing?
Robin has been nominated for CNN Heroes of the year, 2011. If she is chosen out of the Top 10, she will be able to receive $250,000 to help more women and children in need. All you have to do is visit the CNN Heroes page, click on Robin Lim’s photo, put your email address in there and vote! Thousands of her supporters do not have access to computers, so it’s essential that those of us who do take a minute out of our day to support this amazing woman and her dedicated team of midwives, staff and volunteers.
You can vote for Robin 10 times a day until December 7th. All of our staff members have been doing this everyday, and we urge you to do the same so we can all be a part of the collective effort in making midwifery and safe birthing a normal aspect of women and babies everywhere in the world.
With peace and love,
Everyone at Mama Goddess
For more information about Ibu Robin’s work, visit http://www.bumisehatbali.org/
For videos and more stories: http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/archive11/robin.lim.html