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(SPOT.ph) Soft-spoken and slight, Robin Lim makes for an unlikely hero. But since 2003, she has been helping Indonesian mothers, most of them too poor to afford the expensive maternal care being offered in hospitals, give birth through her Yayasan Bumi Sehat (“Healthy Mother Earth Foundation”) clinics. The passion in her midwifery work earned her a place in last year's CNN's Heroes of the Year, making her the second person of Filipino descent to earn the honor, after 2009's Efren Peñaflorida.
The daughter of a manghihilot and an American serviceman, Robin has grown up to be a passionate advocate of midwifery and the daily miracle of giving birth. “When I had my first baby, I had my baby at home, very easy, very beautiful,” she tells a group of reporters assembled for a press conference organized by Anvil Publishing last April 30. “And I just gazed into that new baby’s eyes and I could not believe that this wasn’t the biggest news event of the century. And then I realized, all the mothers are doing this! Why isn’t this front-page news?”
Fielding all the reporters' questions, she holds forth on a variety of views, challenging the dominant perspectives we have on childbirth and child-rearing.
Robin Lim in a press conference hosted by Anvil Publishing
It was reported earlier that you planned to bring your project to the Philippines...
You know how Filipinos are, they love their home. My mother was born and raised in Baguio. So, of course, the first thing I think of when I think about opening a similar project for the Philippines, is the pilot should be in Baguio. We also have a lot of problems with maternal and infant mortality as you get higher in the mountains, so a community-based clinic where childbirth can happen and pre-natal care [is] free for the women is a real priority for the Baguio area. There’s also a plan for one in Quezon City, very close to where the [Payatas] dump is, where the women really need this kind of help.
What are the difficulties you anticipate in starting this project here?
I think the most difficult thing with any kind of project is we want to make it sustainable, and sustainable means that when I’m no longer the Hero of the Year, we still need support. For example, we’ve been doing this for more than fifteen years now in Indonesia, and the support has grown and gotten better with this award and with other awards, but we need to keep the ball rolling. People don’t stop having babies. In the next generation and the next generation, we need to sustain, so that’s going to be our biggest challenge.