Los Angeles (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.
"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," Lim said during "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," which took place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and recognized Lim and the other top 10
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.
Lim believes Indonesia's high maternal and infant mortality rates are caused in part by these costs, which many women cannot meet.
"The situation is bad ... babies are unattended, deliveries have become commercialized, and mothers die from hemorrhage after childbirth because they can't afford proper care," Lim told CNN earlier this year.
The CNN Hero of the Year was chosen by the public after an 11-week vote on CNN.com. For being named Hero of the Year, Lim will receive $250,000 for her cause. That's in addition to the $50,000 that she and the rest of the top 10 Heroes each received for making the top 10.
This is the fifth year that CNN, with the help of entertainers and other celebrities, have honored everyday people changing the world. Among this year's presenters were comedians Jerry Seinfeld and George Lopez; actors J.R. Martinez and Chris Colfer; musical artists Ice Cube and will.i.am; model Christy Turlington Burns; former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner; and actresses Laura Dern, Mary-Louise Parker and Sofia Vergara.
Fil-Am named 2011 CNN Hero of the Year
Monday, 12 December 2011 21:30 Dennis D. Estopace / Reporter
A FILIPINO-AMERICAN midwife was named by media giant CNN Inc. on Sunday as its 2011 Hero of the Year for her leadership of a group helping poor women in Indonesia have healthy pregnancies and births.
"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," said Robin Lim during "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
In 2009 the media group also named named a Filipino, Efren Peñaflorida, CNN Hero of the Year for teaching streetchildren via a mobile wooden pushcart symbolizing the country's urban poor.
Lim, who heads the Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth Foundation) health clinics, said she became a midwife after her sister—and her sister's baby—died from complications during childbirth several years ago.
She and her husband then sold their home in Hawaii and moved to Bali to "reinvent our lives," she said.
She has been running her free clinics in Bali and Aceh since 2003. The clinic provides free prenatal and birthing services for poor Indonesian women, as well as training for young midwives.
With her win, the Bumi Sehat Foundation will receive a $250,000 grant, on top of the $50,000 given to each of the Top 10 CNN Heroes.
Lim, 54, said she "always felt happiest in Asia."
She said she chose Indonesia because this was where her father was stationed with the United States military although she grew up in the Philippines.
According to the United Nations Development Program, over 13 percent of Indonesia's 240 million people still live below the national poverty line, and nearly half the population lives on less than $2 a day.
Indonesia's maternal mortality rate of 228 per 100,000 live births remains the highest in Southeast Asia. The Philippines is No. 2 at 162.
"Today on our Earth, 981 mothers in the prime of their life will die—and tomorrow again and yesterday. And I'm asking you to help change that. We don't even know how many babies are lost, but all of us can help change that," Lim said in her speech.