the safe motherhood challenge in indonesia

robin lim accepting the cnn hero of the year awardIntroducing an amazing woman who knows a thing or two about challenges… after Robin Lim’s sister and her sister’s baby died from complications during childbirth several years ago, Robin and her husband sold their home in Hawaii and moved to Bali to ‘reinvent their lives’. It was there that Robin soon learnt she could help make a big difference to the life prospects of pregnant women and their newborn babies.

In 1994 Robin opened a clinic, Bumi Sehat, so that impoverished local mothers could give birth safely and be treated with dignity and respect. Nearly 18 years on, ‘Ibu’ (meaning mother) Robin has helped to safely deliver thousands of babies. In acknowledgement of her extraordinary work, Ibu Robin has recently been bestowed the wonderful recognition in being named the ‘2011 CNN Hero of the Year’.

During the glittering ceremony in Los Angeles last month, Robin said “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.”

Many women in the developing world do not have access to contraception or maternal care. 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.

In Indonesia, the average family earns the equivalent of $8 a day, according to the International Monetary Fund. But a baby delivery costs about $70 at a hospital, and a Caesarian section can cost as much as $700. Robin believes Indonesia’s high maternal and infant mortality rates are caused in part by these costs, which many women cannot meet.

The reality is bad… if births are unattended and there are complications, mothers may die from haemorrhage after childbirth because they can’t afford appropriate care. It’s these dire situations that the excellent work of Bumi Sehat is helping to prevent.

The Intrepid Foundation is very proud to have Bumi Sehat as one of its newest Community Projects, and Intrepid travellers to Bali may visit the clinic and hear first hand about their critical work.

The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
You can support Bumi Sehat and help save mothers and babies via the Intrepid Foundation. Plus find out how your donation can be matched* by Intrepid Travel!

* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.

Photo: © CNN

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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I had the pleasure of visiting the Bumi Sehat centre in Ubud in April 2010. Met Robin and her wondeful staff and saw first hand the work they are doing. I felt she was the closest thing to a “Mother Theresa” that I would ever get to meet in my life.
Money is absolutely the number 1 thing they need. They told us about mothers who have to go to hospitals for cessarians and can’t afford to pay. The hospital lets the mother go home – but holds the baby until the bill can be paid!! How sad is that?
As well as money (or instead of if you can’t afford cash) ask your workmates and friends to donate something that is listed on the Bumi Sehat website. Apart from that I am sure some muslin wraps are always a welcome gift for the new mothers.'

What a great piece of work Robin is doing. A long long time ago I was trained as a lay midwife and prenatal counsellor–this was before I became a journalist & author. To ‘be there’ for the mother and father (if he is present) and welcome a new life into the world is a rare privilege. I hope somehow I can get to Bali to visit and bring things from my community in Western Canada’s coastal islands to Bumi Sehat.
Trysh Ashby-Rolls
Contributor to Walk Myself Home anthology
Author: Triumph: A Journey of Healing from Incest
Presently writing Burnished Gold: Stories from around the world of resilience, courage and healing after major trauma.'

Yeah – two of my favorites joined up!

I’ve been supporting Bumi Sehat for a number of years now and love the work they are doing there, led by Ibu Robin. If people are going to Ubud, Bali – they can look on the website of Bumi Sehat – – where there is a WISH LIST. These are things that are either impossible to get in Bali – or too expensive. These things don’t take up much space in your suitcase – and are so appreciated. Another thing travellers can do is ask amongst friends – a few weeks before they leave – if they would like to donate. It’s as simple as adding a pack of muslin wraps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bottle of kid safe mosquito repellent etc to your shopping trolley in the weeks leading up to going.

Every little bit helps – and it just adds that bit of ‘ahhhh’ to your holiday! (All the taxi drivers in Ubud know where Bumi Sehat is – and will take you there to deliver your donations).

Sorry for the ramble – but there is so much good being done here.'

I would guess that a lot of travellers to Bali might be oblivious to how much preventable loss of life there is for Mums and their babes there. In addition to financial contributions, Bumi Sehat have a terrific wish list of items on their web-site – lots of things that are easily purchased from a pharmacy in the west, that are hard to get in Indonesia, that you can drop off to Bumi Sehat close by to Ubud.

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