Excerpt from Direct Relief

When a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island of Lombok, Indonesia, in 2018, it was destructive and deadly in its own right.

“The whole north half of Lombok was fairly devastated…they were utterly cut off from the world for five days, with no electricity and no heat,” recalled Robin Lim, a renowned midwife and maternal health activist whose nonprofit, Bumi Sehat, provides maternal and family health services in Indonesia.

Lim, who goes by the Indonesian title “Ibu,” meaning “mother,” flew into the island with a medical team in the wake of the earthquake, and met Gordon Willcock, a member of Direct Relief’s emergency response team, on the ground. “We saw people surrounded by rubble, just staring six feet out into space,” she said.

But the first night of their arrival, another magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island. “It was a really eerie experience,” Willcock recalled. “Everyone was traumatized by the previous earthquake.”

All told, that summer’s earthquakes would 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 tarp structures outdoors, Lim said.

“A warm, dry bed to rest in after you gave birth – this was just not possible in Lombok,” she recalled.

And Lim’s team, headed by midwife Budi Astuti, began providing maternal and primary health care on the ground, dealing with everything from lacerations to deliveries. Because no structure was available, they cared for their patients in tents.

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