Former Dos Pueblos student Robin Lim was honored with CNN’s Heroes Award for her efforts in the promotion of maternal health care in Southeast Asia. Lim has run her clinic, Yayasan Bumi Sehat, and provided emergency medical services in the wake of natural disasters for over fifteen years.
The 54-year-old Lim, known as Ibu “Mother” Robin by her Indonesian community, lost both her sister and her best friend to childbirth complications within the span of a year. Although Lim had already built a stable life for herself in Hawaii, the tragedies inspired her to re-evaluate and dedicate herself to preventing others from needlessly suffering the same loss. In 1994, she and her husband moved to Indonesia and began providing free health services to pregnant women out of their Bali home. By 2005, Yayasan Bumi Sehat was a formally established clinic providing 9,000 consultations and assisting in 550 births every year.
Having been raised in the Philippines while her father was in the military, Lim understood the need for maternal health care in Southeast Asia. According to the United Nations Population Fund, three out of five women in the region give birth without the services of a skilled attendant, leading to high maternal and infant mortality rates. When women do manage to find hospitals with a trained staff, the cost for their medical services are often unaffordably high. Many new mothers are forced to leave their babies in the hospitals they are born in until they can pay the fees. Others simply relinquish their parental rights and never see their children again.
Lim, who has eight children of her own, has focused her efforts on providing women and children the best care available at no cost. The Yayasan Bumi Sehat clinics now offer midwifery apprenticeships to train locals on proper childbirth care, gentle birthing services including prenatal yoga classes, and even general health services such as acupuncture and homeopathic alternatives to pharmaceuticals.
Bumi Sehat’s dedication to the dignity and health of expecting mothers and children has since earned them international attention. Lim’s staff provided emergency medical response to the community of Aceh after the devastating tsunami of 2004, which lead to the eventual opening of Bumi Sehat’s second clinic. Lim’s post-tsunami efforts became the subject of the critically acclaimed documentary Guerilla Midwife, which was an official selection at the Cannes Independent Film Festival in 2010. In recent years, Bumi Sehat has provided services to Indonesian celebrities as well as low-income locals.