9/16/2017 Diversity Voyage Report Part 1 – a guest post from EC intern Lily!
The Bumi Sehat Foundation is located in a bright and airy compound, built just last November through funds raised by Earth Company. A minute’s drive from the centre of Ubud, it services the local and greater Indonesian community in the form of natural births, mother-child support and assisted postnatal care, while running educational midwife programs.
Here, Earth Company makes a stop on its Diversity Voyage, or DiVo, an immersive and cross-cultural educative program tailored towards university students. DiVo aims to expose young minds to the world of social enterprise and NGO initiatives based in Ubud, Bali, through a personal and hands-on learning experience. Today, I meet thirty participants from the DiVo program: students from Japan’s Toyo University, in collaboration with GIFT and from Indonesia’s Udayana University.
The students have come together to meet Earth Company’s Impact Hero, Ibu Robin Lim. Ibu Robin is the woman behind Bumi Sehat, and from first encounter one can see she is an extremely warm and compelling person. The language of presentation is a mix of Bahasa and English with Japanese translation. Through her natural ability for storytelling, Ibu Robin brings her listeners on a journey of childbirth, hardship and joy at Bumi Sehat. Established in 1995, the centre grew out of the lack of resources that local women faced, for those who were in at-risk situations and for others seeking an alternative to hospitalized childbirth. Ibu Robin explains that many Indonesian women feel pressure to have a hospital birth or caesareans and are unaware of their alternatives. Elements of natural birth, such as prolonged skin-to-skin contact with mother and baby, are known to positively impact the health of a newborn. Yet these elements of childbirth are often lacking in typical hospitals in Indonesia.
Not only does Bumi Sehat offer its services as a holistic alternative for local and foreign women, it functions as an indispensable resource for those who do not have access to safe, assisted childbirth or postnatal care. At the clinic, 30% of mothers are Muslim, a considerable proportion considering Bali is predominantly Hindu. Ibu Robin explains that many mothers are not local Balinese but are migratory workers, originating from Java or Sumatra. Others originate from neighbouring Balinese villages that are isolated and lack the funds to access effective and supportive systems of women’s healthcare.
For this portion of the DiVo program, the students collaborate in groups to propose a sustainable business model for Bumi Sehat, in efforts to help its new mothers gain economic independence. Many of the Indonesian and Japanese students have never been exposed to the world of NGOs, and this is the first time they’ve been exposed to the pandemic of economic and social inequality in Indonesia. For several Japanese students, it is even their first time overseas. The project provides a steep learning curve, as the students are not only in unfamiliar territory, but are collaborating cross-culturally in English, not their first language.
Currently, Earth Company is working with Bumi Sehat to secure funds to open a new centre in Papua, with future plans to open another in the Philippines. Both centres, assisted by midwives trained by Bumi Sehat, will be located in high-risk communities where women face a severe lack of resources. Diversity Voyage is an awesome program that not only brings Ibu Robin and her foundation to light, but engages young minds in the world of social enterprise in the process.