Story: My Hero, Ibu Robin Lim
People thought I was crazy to even consider getting on a plane to Indonesia the day after running the ING NYC Marathon for Every Mother Counts, and in hindsight I probably was, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to travel across the world to meet an extraordinary woman who is doing extraordinary things for families.
Robin Lim is a midwife, mother of five, wife, mentor, and community crusader who has been living in Bali for the last twenty odd years.
She and her family decided to move there after she lost her sister, who died from childbirth complications, and her best friend in a fatal car accident in the same year. She needed a change and Bali offered her that and so much more.
After word spread beyond her Ubud neighborhood that she could assist women giving birth, families started knocking down her door for help. The demand for her loving care and services led her to open the Bumi Sehat Clinic, where I was fortunate enough to visit last month to see Ibu (Mother) Robin at work. The clinic is just down the road from her home – it’s hard to distinguish one from the other because both are bustling with activity 24 hours a day and many of the clinic staff are friends and family.
When I arrived at Robin's home the first day, she stuck her head out of a second floor opening and invited me up to chat as she got dressed for the day like we were sisters who'd known one another for a lifetime. It was the birthday of her neighborhood temple so we were to pay our respects before heading over to the clinic for the day.
Before I knew it I was dressed in Balinese clothing suitable for a Hindu temple and off we went together bearing offerings. It's times like these that I have to pinch myself just to remind myself that my life has become so wonderfully varied. Marathon, Hindu temple, clinic, gymnastics meet, photo shoot, global health conference...all of this pretty much sums up a normal week for me.
When we finally arrive at the clinic, there was a group of enthusiastic Australians waiting for Robin. They have come to bring baby clothes and make donations to the clinic to support Robin's work. Services are provided to everyone free of charge so the clinic relies on donations from those who can afford to pay, as well as from donors around the world who know of Robin's work and mission that we can change the world one gentle birth at a time, addressing one mother at a time.
The following day we visited a slum where Robin led the way kissing every familiar face we passed. We visited a couple who shared their story with us about when they delivered twins locally at another clinic, and could not pay for services they were forced to leave one child and sent home with the other until they could come up with the funds. This couple was very poor so they left as they were told but no matter how hard the father of the babies tried he could not raise enough to relinquish their son. Robin has helped to connect the family with the media and human rights lawyers who finally got their child back, but scenarios like this are not uncommon in the region. This is just one example of how Robin Lim goes the extra mile for families.
It was an honor and a thrill to be invited to participate in this year's CNN Hero Awards which highlights the extraordinary commitment of every day heroes every year. Robin Lim and the other nine nominees are all shining examples of selfless service to others and there is nothing much that inspires me more. Robin, we are so proud of you. Congratulations to you and to all the amazing Heroes!
As Robin stated upon accepting her award, "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." Let's make sure that Every Mother Counts.
- Christy Turlington Burns