Badass midwife wins 2011 CNN Hero Award

Midwife Robin Lim has won the 2011 CNN Hero Award, which comes with a $300,000 prize to help her cause. About Robin, from CNN:

Robin Lim, an American woman who has helped thousands of poor Indonesian women have a healthy pregnancy and birth, was named the 2011 CNN Hero of the Year on Sunday night.

Through her Yayasan Bumi Sehat health clinics, “Mother Robin,” or “Ibu Robin” as she is called by the locals, offers free prenatal care, birthing services and medical aid in Indonesia, where many families cannot afford care.

It’s great to see a midwife receive such mainstream recognition and support for her work.

You can read more about Robin’s clinic and see video of her acceptance speech over at Radical Doula.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • Meagan

    Maybe instead of calling American people who go into indigenous communities and provide services such as midwifery, heroes, we should be looking at the people in those communities already providing these services. Midwifery is a worldwide practice that has existed in indigenous communities for many years that has been reappropriated by white women who claim it as their own. It’s neocolonialism. Americans know what’s best for the indigenous people of malaysia, right?

    • Meagan

      Sorry, Indonesia.

    • Caryl

      I agree with you Meagan. There is something sinister about the typical white savior narrative taking place through this program. I suppose the best thing to do with the money she gets is donate it to local groups or programs that are actually run by and created by the people who “need” them. If you were “successful” enough to get awarded CNN HERO, you can give resources to those who might know ways to better respond to the issues that really affect them in ways an outsider might not.

  • Andrea

    check out more information about Robin Lim, the health clinics and those who provide services for them.
    You’ll see that the staff and volunteers are pretty reflective of the community in which they serve.
    The last thing Robin Lim can be accused of is being paternalistic to those who she is serving.
    I’m pretty happy to see Feministing covering this — Robin Lim is a badass midwife

  • Lisa O.

    Wow. You guys have no idea what your talking about. My own midwife here in the US has worked with Robin Lim in Indonesia. Do you know what the women there say about Robin? They gave her the name Ibu (mother). The women she helped were grateful that someone was willing to provide desperately needed healthcare to them without cost. Something their own country wasn’t providing them. They said that without her clinic they would have had to give birth unattended or at the local hospital. (There were no indigenous midwife practicing in many of the villages.) The local hospital keeps the newborns hostage if the mother is unable to pay. They only allow the mother to see and feed her newborn for 15 minutes twice a day and then babies are left unattended. Newborns typically eat 12-18 times a day. It is a gross human rights violation. Robin is actually doing something about this, be she an American or not. Watch her documentary “Guerilla Midwife”. It is not her fault if CNN described her work in an offensive manner. I highly doubt that she goes around Indonesia proclaiming, “The White American Woman is here to save your brown souls!” She is a humble and peace-loving woman who was able to get a message across on National TV that “ALL MOTHERS MATTER AND HEALTHCARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT”. Yeah, that sounds so neocolonialist to me (sarcasm)…wtf?

    And if any of you actually knew how hard it is for some midwives to legally practice in many states in the US, maybe you could understand why she relocated to Indonesia where she was able to make an instant impact. While I know it is popular to disparage Americans–usually for good reason–you ladies are way off this time.

    I would like to ask the previous commentators about the lives that they save daily?

    • Andrea

      Thank you, Thank you Lisa O!!!

      You are so much more articulate than me.

      I’d also like to point out this information about Robin Lim:

      “Lim’s Filipino Grandmother, Vicenta Munar Lim, was a traditional birth attendant in the Baguio mountain region of Luzon, Philippine Islands. Before during and after WWII she served as a healer and baby catcher for her people. Just as Lim’s “Lola” passed her family tradition of hands-on healing down to her, Lim is already training her granddaughter, Zhouie, in the art and passion of midwifery and service to humanity.”

      I’m sad that the earlier posters jumped to conclusions about Lim’s motivations and background….

  • smash

    Very cool.