On the Indonesian island of Lombok, a model of gentle care
When a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck Indonesia’s Lombok Island in 2018, it was destructive and deadly in itself.
âThe entire northern half of Lombok was pretty devastatedâ¦ they were completely cut off from the world for five days, with no electricity and no heat,â recalled Robin Lim, a renowned midwife and maternal health activist whose organization nonprofit, Bumi Sehat, provides mothers and family health services in Indonesia.
Lim, who bears the Indonesian title “Ibu” meaning “mother,” flew to the island with a medical team in the aftermath of the earthquake and met Gordon Willcock, a member of the emergency response team. emergency of Direct Relief, in the field. âWe saw people surrounded by rubble, looking just six feet into space,â she said.
But the first night they arrived, another 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit the island. âIt was a really strange experience,â Willcock recalls. “Everyone was traumatized by the previous earthquake.”
In total, this summer’s earthquakes are said to kill more than 500 people and cause widespread devastation.
In addition, some medical facilities were damaged and forced to move their patients into tents and tarpaulin structures outside, Lim said.
âA warm, dry bed to rest after giving birth – that just wasn’t possible in Lombok,â she recalls.
And Lim’s team, led by midwife Budi Astuti, began providing maternal and primary health care in the field, taking care of everything from lacerations to childbirth. Since no facilities were available, they treated their patients in tents.
But a new center, Bumi Sehat Lombok, designed to provide both maternal and family health services, has just been erected on Lombok Island, and it is there that midwives and other health care providers of Bumi Sehat will now practice.
The purchase of the land and the construction of the facility were financed by Direct Relief.
Astuti, who will be the chief of medicine at the new center, explained that the idea of ââa permanent establishment came to her when she returned to the island – she is from Lombok – and saw her family living in tents, their house destroyed.
âOur services really support the preservation of nature and humanity,â she said. “From all of my life experiences as a midwife, I want to share that love, compassion and trust will give strength in every process.”
Willcock explained that the decision to fund the center was driven not only by the high quality services provided by Bumi Sehat, but also by its ability to serve as a “center of excellence” for maternal and child health services in the region. .
âI anticipate that through the training programs and the example they set in the community, in addition to their clinical services, they will have a profound and lasting impact.
Lim explained that the center is also intended to provide public support. They have a rental car – although an appropriate ambulance is required – and the nurses are all licensed to drive, allowing them to quickly transport a patient to a local hospital if needed.
And sometimes that support comes in unconventional ways. A young woman came to the establishment to ask for work as a cleaning lady. Astuti quickly discovered that the young woman was on the verge of becoming a midwife – and being able to support herself and her younger brother – but that she couldn’t afford the fees to take the exams.
Bumi Sehat Lombok quickly paid the young woman’s expenses and, once she fulfilled the conditions, hired her as a midwife.
While the center’s presence on the island aims to improve access to health services, Lim said his aim was also to foster a “model of respectful, gentle and humanitarian care.”
âEmpathy and compassion – these are really important words for us,â she said. “Everyone is talking about a gentle birth.” Bumi Sehat Lombok, which sits on a large expanse of land with fruit trees, is fully open for antenatal and community care.
And maternity services don’t come too early, Lim said. Thanks to Covid-19, she expects an increase in deliveries. âAfter every disaster, there is a spike in the birth rate,â she says.