Thursday, January 5, 2012

Robin Lim : 2011 CNN Hero of the year

Have you heard of Bumi Sehat, a non-profit, village based Organisation that runs community health centres providing health consultation for both children and adults.  They are famous for their midwifery services ensuring gentle births to poor.  Quite shocking to read that there is the dreaded practice of holding babies until payment is made is prevalent in Indonesia.  The newbornbabies will be held by the hospital until the payment is made to them – and finding money to make payment is near herculean job for the poor women.   It is reported that the average family earns the equivalent of $8 a day, according to the International Monetary Fund, but a normal hospital delivery without complications costs around $70. A Caesarian section can cost more than $700.   There is a notion that Indonesia's high maternal and infant mortality rates are caused in part by these costs, which many women cannot meet. In turn, their lives and the lives of their babies are at risk.  According to the United Nations Population Fund, three out of five women giving birth in South Asia do so without a skilled birth attendant on hand.

Many of us do not even know what is happening nearby and are generally not bothered about the events but does the World have a responsibility for safe birth of a new baby – don’t children deserve a clean, healthy, loving environment.   Fortunate that CNN cares and they received a nomination on a person striving to care for this cause. 

CNN Heroes is an All-Star Tribute annual television special created by CNN to honour individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid. Hosted by Anderson Cooper, it started in 2007 and continues now, with the awards show aired at the end of the year.   Anderson Hays Cooper is an American journalist, author, and television personality. He also syndicated daytime talk show.  Over the course of a year, viewers can nominate and vote for the heroes they want to nominate for recognition.
Anuradha with Demi Moore

Last year, our man from Madurai – Narayanan Krishnan who has been providing clean food for those on the road side was in the reckoning but eventually lost out to Anuradha Koirala of Kathmandu, who was named 2010 CNN Hero of the year.  Anuradha Koirala is a social activist and the founder and director of Maiti Nepal - a non-profit organization in Nepal dedicated to helping victims of sex trafficking. As the name suggests, Maiti Nepal ("maiti" meaning "mother's home" in Nepali) has been a refuge for women rescued from the brothels in India. The women can stay in the homes run by Maiti Nepal until they are able to return to their homes or if not accepted by their parents they may stay until they become able to live on their own.  Maiti Nepal also works on reuniting the rescued women with their families, patrolling Indo-Nepal border with police and other law enforcement authorities and also rescuing trafficked women from the brothels in India with the help of Indian authorities

The 2011 CNN Hero of the year is a woman popularly known as ‘Ibu Robin to the locals - mother Robin’.  Robin Lim, an American woman who has helped thousands of poor Indonesian women have a healthy pregnancy and birth. Through her Bumi Sehat health clinics, she  offers free prenatal care, birthing services and medical aid in Indonesia, where many families cannot afford care.   She has delivered thousands of babies, and that is why they call her 'Ibu' -- Mother."  Lim is a U.S. citizen, mother of eight children of her own, and author of many books related to infant and maternal health.  In 2003, with help from the Balinese community and donations from friends across the globe, Lim and fellow midwife Brenda Ritchmond opened the first Yayasan Bumi Sehat clinic.

"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,". "Eight years ago, after giving birth to my first child, Grace, I felt what could have been a life-threatening complication," she told the audience of nearly 5,000. "It suddenly got very scary, very fast. If I hadn't received the expert care in the hospital birthing center I was in, then I may have not been so fortunate.  "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."  Lim became a midwife after her sister -- and her sister's baby -- died from complications during pregnancy several years ago. She and her husband then sold their home in Hawaii and moved to Bali to "reinvent their lives,"  Lim said during "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," which took place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and recognized Lim and the other top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011.

The CNN Hero of the Year was chosen by the public after an 11-week vote on CNN.com. For being named Hero of the Year, Lim will receive $250,000 for her cause. That's in addition to the $50,000 that she and the rest of the top 10 Heroes each received for making the top 10. This is the fifth year that CNN, with the help of entertainers and other celebrities, have honored everyday people changing the world.

After being announced as the CNN Hero of the Year, a tearful Lim accepted the award from host Anderson Cooper and made an impassioned plea for help.  It is reported that in  the first eight months of 2011, the Bumi Sehat Foundation has had more than 20,500 incidences of patient care and assisted in the delivery of almost 400 babies. From its beginnings as a community health and childbirth clinic in Bali, Lim took the Bumi Sehat Foundation to Aceh following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Combined, the two clinics have facilitated the birth of more than 5,000 babies.   War widows, "motel kids" and the working poor are among the many people who have been helped by this year's top 10 CNN Heroes.  Some Indonesian celebrities and expatriates choose Bumi Sehat to birth their children, and they often give donations. But Lim says 80% of the families served by the clinics can barely pay anything.  "Rock star or prostitute, everyone gets treated (like a) VIP at Bumi Sehat ... with kindness and respect," she said. "It's something to see a family come year after year, every time their mango tree gives fruit, and give a few mangoes to the staff to say thank you.  "No one gets rich being a midwife. The riches that you experience are the deeper values." 

In every part of the World there are such impassioned individuals who have been changing the Society and the way the Society looks at certain critical issues.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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