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Maternal Health Advocate Robin Lim Named CNN Hero Of The Year

Last night, maternal health advocate Robin Lim accepted the CNN 2011 Hero of the Year award, telling the audience, “Every mother counts, and health care is a human right.” Lim is the founder of the Yayasan Bumi Sehat health clinics in Indonesia which provide free antenatal, birthing and postnatal care; capacity-building and training for local midwives; and community outreach on maternal health.

According to the World Health Organization, Indonesia has one of the highest levels of maternal mortality in Southeast Asia, with 240 deaths per 100,000 live births. Poor women are particularly at risk - the average family earns approximately $7 a day, yet the cost of delivering at a hospital costs about $70, and a Caesarian section can cost up to $700. As a result, many women rely on community-based midwives, local women who work tirelessly with scarce resources and supplies to ensure healthy pregnancies and deliveries. 

Lim herself is a midwife, a career path inspired by the death of her sister during childbirth several years ago. In search of a fresh start, she moved to Bali and founded her clinics, soon earning the name “Ibu Robin”, or “Mother Robin”. By providing skilled care to women regardless of their income, she has saved the lives of thousands of Indonesian women and babies. Her clinic also trains midwives on prenatal, labor/delivery and postpartum care, offering educational scholarships to low-income students and apprenticeships to midwives from around the world.

Supermodel, filmmaker and advocate Christy Turlington Burns visited Lim’s clinic and was deeply struck by the need for and impact of Lim’s work. She introduced Lim’s video tribute, telling the room, “My wish is that every mother all over the world has the same chance surviving childbirth I had. My friend Robin Lim shares that wish and she spends her days and nights making it so."  Turlington Burns is the founder of Every Mother Counts, a maternal health advocacy and mobilization campaign, and the director of “No Woman, No Cry”, a groundbreaking documentary on at-risk pregnancies around the world.  

Lim was selected for this year’s Hero of the Year award through an 11-week voting period on CNN.com.  This is the fifth year of the Hero of Year award, which provides a total of $300,000 to the winner towards her cause. Upon accepting her award from host Anderson Cooper, Lim made an emotional plea to the crowd:

“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. “

For more information on how to help Lim’s clinics, please click here.

Video courtesy of CNN:

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