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Fil-Am midwife Robin Lim (center), 2011 CNN Hero of the Year, with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (5th from left) and the 9 other nominees, after the “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, December 11, 2011. (Image courtesy of CNN)
MANILA, Philippines – For advocating maternal and child health for poor Indonesians, Filipino-American midwife Robin Lim was declared the 2011 CNN Hero of the Year on Sunday (Monday morning in Manila) at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, USA.
She was declared CNN Hero of the Year in a star-studded gala broadcast worldwide on the cable news channel, besting 9 other nominees from around the world.
“Ibu Robin” (“Mother Robin” in the local language) established birthing clinics in Bali and Aceh, Indonesia, where mothers receive free prenatal care, birthing services, and even medical aid to anyone in need.
She turned a personal tragedy – the death of her sister due to pregnancy complications – into something positive by working to become a professional midwife. She and her family then left the US and settled in Indonesia to “reinvent their lives,” leading her to establish the Bumi Sehat Foundation.
Bumi Sehat, according to the group, is a “non-profit, village-based organization that runs two by-donation community health centers in Bali and Aceh, Indonesia,” serving thousands of children and adults annually.
“Since 2003, Lim’s “Yayasan Bumi Sehat” (Healthy Mother Earth) clinic has provided medical assistance to thousands of women,” CNN said in Lim’s CNN Heroes profile.
Lim, 54, was born to a Filipino mother and an American father and was raised in the Philippines. In a profile published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer in October, Lim said she was inspired by her maternal grandmother Vicenta Munar Lim to pursue traditional healing methods and to become a midwife.
“Lola Vicenta had such a profound influence on my life that I did not identify with my American-half. I became deeply Filipino, like my mother, and my lola, so much so that when I was a teenage mother-to-be, I chose to give birth, not in a hospital with a doctor, but with a midwife,” she told the Inquirer back in October.
She is the second CNN Hero of the Year to have connections to the Philippines. In 2009, “pushcart educator” and Cavite youth leader Efren Penaflorida won the award, annually given by the global news giant to “individuals who go to extraordinary lengths to serve others.”
Aside from a $50,000 grant (given to all the finalists), Lim will receive an additional $250,000 for the foundation.
The multi-platform campaign received thousands of nominations worldwide, CNN said in its press release. People from all over the world were able to vote for their preferred Hero, and are encouraged to donate to the causes they advocate, at CNNHeroes.com.