Having served as a midwife for more than 40 years, Lin Tien Ya-yi (林田雅意), who died on July 15 at age 94, is fondly remembered by residents of Pingtung County’s Wanluan Township (萬巒).
Lin Tien had a hand in the delivery of more than 95 percent of the township’s adults now aged 45 and above, local records show.
During most of her working life, she was the only government-certified midwife in Wanluan.
Local residents remember with gratitude her dedication to her job, saying she would head out to deliver babies be it early in the day or late at night.
Lin Tien was born in Tainan in 1922. Because her family had many children, she was given up for adoption when she was five. Her adopted mother was a midwife who trained at the Taiwan Sotofuku Taipei Hospital (which later became the National Taiwan University Hospital) during the Japanese colonial era.
As a child, Lin Tien learned from watching her mother at work. At 16, she attended the Taichung Midwife Training School to obtain her professional certification and moved to Pingtung when she got married at 20 to Lin Ta-yun (林達雲), who was from Wanluan.
Her son, Lin Chun-yuan (林春源), recounted how his mother provided medical care for pregnant women and assisted in their deliveries.
“She also bought milk powder, towels and other baby care items for the mothers. She did this using her own money because most of the rural families were poor at the time,” he said.
He added that his mother also cooked chicken soup with sesame oil — a traditional fare — to help the mothers recuperate during their month-long postpartum care period.
“She said her mother had taught her to dedicate her service to people. So whenever somebody knocked on the door asking for assistance, my mother never refused them. She would just head out to help deliver babies, no matter how far it was or how late the hour,” he said.
Lin said his mother was so committed to her work and servicing the community that she often had to walk through narrow trails across paddy fields, and even helped deliver a baby only three days after having given birth herself.
Lin added that the first baby his mother delivered in Wanluan is now 70 years old.
Aside from her own work, Lin Tien also joined the local government’s midwifery medical team at the Wanluan Township Health Clinic in 1952 and headed the local publicity campaign for family planning programs.
She continued working as a midwife in the 1970s and only retired as the nation’s social and medical conditions improved and better health service facilities became available.
Wanluan Township Mayor Lin Pi-chien (林碧乾) said most people called Lin Tien “Aunt A-ta,” taking the first name of her husband Lin Ta-yun.
“Because Aunt A-ta was the first in the township to apply professional health training and knowledge, such as the need for cleaning and disinfection, she greatly improved the survival rate of babies and mothers in our township,” said Lin Pi-chien, who also came into this world with the aid of Lin Tien.
He added that for numerous local families, two successive generation of babies were delivered with Lin Tien’s assistance.
“Local records show that Aunt A-ta delivered close to 10,000 babies, which is why she is a venerated figure in Wanluan. Local residents fondly remember her many good deeds and dedication to service,” he added.