CNN hero of the year to bring ‘miracles’ to Philippines
Filipino-American midwife Robin Lim, CNN ’s Hero of the Year for 2011, is working to bring countless miracles to the Philippines.
Lim has devoted her life serving those whom she describes as the real heroes—the mothers giving the miracle of life—through her nonprofit, Indonesia-based Bumi Sehat Foundation clinics, which help impoverished Indonesian women to deliver their babies in an environment of care, respect and love.
She is also fighting to bring down the number of women who die while giving birth.
Now, Lim wants to do the same to poor Filipino mothers. She wants to put up a community-based clinic for free childbirth and prenatal care in Baguio City, her mother’s hometown, and in Quezon City, where many live near the Payatas garbage dump.
She wants Filipino mothers to have healthy pregnancies and to allow them to give birth in a safe environment in order to reduce the number of maternal and infant deaths, which have become more pronounced in mountainous regions.
Breastfeeding is also a practice she firmly believes in. She looks up to the late President Corazon Aquino as her hero as well for the latter’s support for the practice.
Lim, also known as “Mother Robin,” is now gathering support for these endeavors to make sure that they would be sustainable. She hopes that her new status as CNN Hero would help her get what she needs.
“Those of you in business, remember that those of us who are volunteers in the world, we cannot do anything without your help. So let us be your heart and your hands out in the field by supporting us. That’s the key to get the support that we need so the women, the families in Baguio can start,” she says in a recent press briefing.
Lim is currently in the Philippines for various engagements, including book signings for her novel Butterfly People published by Anvil Publishing Inc., and a speaking engagement before the Midwives League of the Philippines.
Child birth deaths
For Lim, it is a horror that 981 women die per day from complications of child birth. This is even more than the number of people who would die if two 747 airplanes crashed.
“If two 747 airplanes fell out of the sky every day, it would be front page news,” she says.
The number of mothers dying while giving birth demands the same attention, she says.
“So why isn’t it in the news? Why? I think that needs to be front page everyday. And another thing that needs to be front page is the miracle of birth,” she says.
Lim is an advocate of natural childbirth and practices holistic health care. Her foundation is based on respect for nature, respect for culture, and the “wise implementation” of the science of medicine.
She has misgivings on the belief that technology is the solution to reducing maternal and infant mortality, and to having healthier births. While modern medicine does save lives, it is not the answer to everything, she says.
“The fact is if technology in childbirth was the answer, the US would be number one and have the lowest maternal mortality rate in the world because the US spends more on birth technology than any other country. But the US just fell to number 50,” she says.
Lim’s Bumi Sehat Foundation, which relies on donations, trains midwives on prenatal care and gentle birthing techniques to ease pain, reduce cesarian rates, and improve the health of mothers and babies. It focuses on natural methods of reducing pregnancy risks.
She notes that in order to reach the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality, some $40 billion has been allocated in Asia.
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