Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why Oaxaca Needs Casa Compasiva

A mama gives birth to a live baby early in the morning, but the baby is whisked away and she never sees it again.  At some point during the morning, the hospital staff come and tell her that her baby is dead, but they don't tell her why.  Being an indigenous woman unaccustomed to questioning authority, she does not ask why-- and she will never know.

A sixteen year old first-time mama with no husband and no boyfriend labours alone and afraid.  The doctor comes in to check her dilation and says, "Oh, she's at seven centimeters, but this will take too long. Let's do a Caesarean.” It is now six hours after the operation and she still hasn't seen her baby.

A seventeen year old mama in labour accidentally pees on her gown and her hospital bed.  Though it smells bad and she is humiliated, she is not allowed to have another gown or her bed sheet changed.  She labours on in shame in a room full of fifteen people.  Presently she is moved to the delivery room where the chief doctor comes in laughing, does a massive episiotomy, and then goes in with forceps and pulls the baby out  – all just to show off in front of the young interns.

The above are true-life incidents, two of them witnessed by me and the other by a Casa Compasiva doula giving volounteer labour-support service at a local hospital last week.  They are representative of the kind of care that the lower-income Oaxacan women receive.  Upper-class women receive more attention in nicer surroundings, but are still funneled through the relentless C-section mill.

That is why Casa Compasiva was born -- to provide a caring alternative to the unacceptable birth options currently existing in Oaxaca.  It exists to support child-bearing women with good care, quality attention, and the loving dignity that God bestows on women.  God raised up Casa Compasiva to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, to bestow on the ladies of Oaxaca “ … a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3)

Our doors have been opened for six months now and we are seeing the fulfillment of God's promises and the joy of serving in this vital ministry.  We rejoice at everything that has been accomplished for God's glory in the last six months!  Yet the truth is that we are also facing a serious financial crisis.

At this stage of Casa Compasiva's development, our expenses far outweigh our income.  Our birth volume is still low, (therefore the income limited); we are still needing to improve the physical plant; we still have some needed equipment to buy; and we face huge once-yearly expenses such as malpractice insurance ($1200 US), Secretary of Health permits ($1,400 US for one year), Social Insurance coverage for all our workers--required by law-- approximately $1300 US every other month, etc. 

Our normal monthly expenses, including rent, utilities, workmen's wages, doulas', nurse, and doctor salaries, supplies, etc. --average $4,000 US per month.  We currently have enough funds for one or two more weeks of operation. Time to storm the throne!

Our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills...this is absolutely no problem for Him.  If He has entrusted you with the stewardship of some of His “cattle”, and you feel His nudging to release some of God's “cows” for the ministry of Casa Compasiva, then please click here for information on how to donate to this ministry.  Specify your gift for Birth Center - Oaxaca on a separate sheet if you mail a check. 
Even if you are unable to give, we would certainly appreciate your prayers!

In confident anticipation of God's faithfulness,

Lila Quezada

Writing on behalf of these happily expectant mamas at Casa Compasiva

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for…

Investing in little ones and their mamas

The time to launch the financial sponsorship program has finally arrived!! (Drum roll, please.)

Here’s how it will work:

You decide that you would like to be a financial sponsor for one of our needy pregnant mamas, and you sign up to support her financially in much the same way as the prayer sponsors do—throughout her pregnancy, birth and six weeks postpartum.  

Your one-time gift of $100.00 will provide her with pre-natal vitamins, nutritional counseling, ultra-sound checks (only when indicated), and prenatal classes.

Even though we charge extremely reasonable fees, far below the actual cost of providing our services, some of our ladies are simply too poor to pay for adequate prenatal care -- much less the cost of their baby’s birth.  In some of these special cases we need additional financial support to provide them adequate prenatal care along with the option of giving birth at the Casa.  So if you would like to support a mama with an extreme financial need, an additional $250.00 will provide her with a “birth scholarship” which will pay for at least most of her needed prenatal appointments ($4.20 US per appointment) plus half of her fee to give birth at the Casa. 

Please click here to send us your name and email address, along with the extent of how you wish to sponsor a pregnant mama.  We will then prayerfully select the woman, send you her name and relevant information, and send you a picture of her (with her permission).  You will have the option of writing to her if you would like to communicate.  We will translate the letters for her and also any communication that she may choose to send your way. 

Don’t delay.  Casa Compasiva and our wonderful pregnant mamas need your help!  Your financial sponsorship can help to make the difference between a healthy mama and baby… or not.

Thanks to all of you who are already faithfully sponsoring one or more of our mamas in prayer.  Since we have new clients come in almost daily, we still have many more mamas needing to be prayer-sponsored.  Let us know if you would like to help in this way.  Just send us your email address and we will connect you with someone for whom you can pray throughout the duration of their pregnancy, birth, and six weeks postpartum.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Baby Emiliano

Getting measured...


...and going home with his happy parents!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Casa Compasiva is situated right next door to a Christian church (El Divino Redentor), and an unforeseen benefit of the location is that we can hear the church members singing on Sunday morning.

A couple of weeks ago a beautiful baby boy pushed his way peacefully into the world as we all enjoyed the congregational worship drifting across the wall.  I think there must be no better accompaniment to one's grand entrance into the world than to the joyful worship of the Creator God who made us all!   

We are also thankful for the fact that this particular little boy's birth was covered by much prayer, since several of the church congregation knew that we had a mama in labour at that time and were praying for the birth.  We have never seen a happier, more peaceful, less traumatized baby than little Emiliano.  His parents, too, were thrilled with the birth.   

As I interviewed them a few days postpartum, they said that they could not be happier with the whole experience and the excellent care they received.  They were so pleased with the fact that the dad was allowed to be at mama's side the whole time, was allowed to take pictures, and was allowed to cut the cord, etc.  With their last baby born in hospital, they didn't even see the baby until the next day! 

When I asked them what we could do to improve our service, their response was:  

“Don't change a thing!”  

 So we all came away rejoicing, and to me it underscores again the need for a solid prayer covering for every birth. What a difference it makes!

Thank you to those who have signed up for being prayer sponsors for our pregnant mamas.  This will be such a huge blessing to our ladies and their babies! However, I can't help but think that there must be more than five of you prayer warriors out there somewhere. :) Unbelievably, so far only five have signed up, yet we still have lots of mamas needing prayer all the way through their pregnancy, birth, and six weeks post-partum.  

 Don't miss out on the privilege of supporting a Casa Compasiva mum and making a difference for eternity!  Just send us an email stating that you would be willing to pray.  We will do the rest. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sponsorship Opportunities!

In a previous post I mentioned the need for prayer partners for each of our pregnant mamas.  We are excited to be ready now to launch our prayer sponsorship program.  Details on financial sponsorship opportunities coming soon!

Ideally each one of our Casa Compasiva expectant mamas will be sponsored by a prayer supporter beginning with her second prenatal visit to the Casa.  Prayer coverage will continue through the duration of her pregnancy, during labour and delivery, and on through six weeks post-partum.
The following prayer points are representative of things for which she will need prayer.

Physical Needs:
·normal development and growth of baby en utero
·that she will take responsibility for her baby and pregnancy
·that she will follow a nutritional diet and get proper exercise
·that pregnancy-related problems such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes will not occur
·that baby will get into the right (head down) position for birth
·that baby will grow strong and healthy but not too big for mama's pelvis
·that baby will not go (too much) overdue
·that the birth will be safe, normal, without any serious complications
·that post-partum recovery will be swift, with lactation and mother-infant bonding well established
Spiritual Needs:
·that the Holy Spirit would draw each mama to want to know more of God's love through Jesus Christ
·that Casa Compasiva staff would be able to clearly communicate the gospel message
·that if she doesn't yet know the Lord that she will find forgiveness in Jesus
·that she would resolve any pending relationship issues prior to the birth
·that she would find hope and healing in God's Word
·that she would find a supportive church home
·that any sexual abuse issues would be adequately dealt with before birth, allowing for less traumatic deliveries
If you are willing to be a prayer sponsor for one of our Casa Compasiva mamas, please click here to send us your name and e-mail address, indicating your interest.  We will select one of our pregnant clients and will send you her name (with her permission) or a name to represent her if she prefers.
We will also send you a brief outline of her situation, for example:

Twenty years old, first-time mum, 16 weeks pregnant, afraid of C-section, undernourished, Christian but not attending church, separated from husband, due date, etc.

The potential of this prayer program is so exciting, having far-reaching physical as well as spiritual implications for each Oaxacan woman that we serve!
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood...” (Ephesians 6:12)
Thank you so much for your interest in upholding our ladies through prayer.  Again, simply send us your name and e-mail address to start the ball rolling!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Two Little Words

We have had our doors open for almost six months now, and we praise the Lord and give Him all the glory for all that has been accomplished so far! 

Mamas have received excellent pre-natal care, loving attention during labour and birth,  spiritual encouragement through God's Word, and careful post-partum and lactation support.  

Our Mexican doulas have been thoroughly trained, and have gone far above and beyond the call of duty -- embracing the vision of Casa Compasiva, and showing creativity, initiative, and responsibility.  They are wonderful!  We are almost halfway through our first year of Bible studies, grounding the doulas and other staff in foundational doctrine and equipping them to be able to disciple others.  Our entire staff--from our beloved Mexican doctor to the cook/cleaning lady-- are united in love and respect for each other and for the women we serve. 

Casa Compasiva has formed agreements with various doctors, hospitals, and medical labs, allowing us to offer reduced rates for care and consultations that are beyond the scope of our practice.  We have systems in place that will allow us to give on-going support to our ladies in the event of complications necessitating their transport to another facility. 

The actual physical plant of Casa Compasiva has undergone many changes and upgrades. Although much remains to be done-- and we eagerly await the arrival of Greg Norris, our maintenance manager, to do it-- still the Casa has been transformed into a cozy, homelike yet functional birth facility. In short, miracles are happening at Casa Compasiva as Oaxacan women and their families are experiencing a level of quality care and personal attention unheard of in the current health system.  Lives are being touched with the love of God and His message of hope for sinners through the saving work of Jesus is being proclaimed and received!

With all of this good news, what could possibly be lacking?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  Let me tell you in two little words:

                                                                           prayer                            and                                  money
Precisely because of our success on a number of levels, the enemy of our souls views Casa Compasiva as a serious emerging threat to his control over Oaxaca.  And rightly so!  Our purpose has never been to simply improve the birth outcomes in Oaxaca, but has always been to use quality midwifery care as a tool to expand the kingdom of God.  A full-blown Casa Compasiva long-term success would have a devastating impact on the stranglehold that Satan has for so long enjoyed here.  The implication, of course, is that since Casa Compasiva is a threat, then Casa Compasiva must be neutralized.
We are not unaware of his schemes”(2 Cor. 2:11), thus we are asking for, pleading for, begging for your covering of prayer over Casa Compasiva. 

Some of you have already signed up to be prayer partners for Casa, and yet we have been remiss in not sending you timely updates telling you how to pray.  Please forgive us and understand the time constraints under which we are labouring (pun intended). :) We are committed to doing much better in this area of communicating our prayer needs since we are becoming very aware of the opposition pitted against us. “A great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”  (1 Cor. 16:9)  So we will try to do better and we ask you who are already partners to renew your efforts, and those who are not yet  partners to commit to strengthening our efforts here by your prayers.(Besides the general Casa needs, we must also develop a sponsorship program whereby every woman we serve is covered in prayer throughout her entire pregnancy, birth, and post-partum period.  Details on that to follow soon!)

The other little item that we need is money-- lots of money!  To date we have been operating almost exclusively on several large-ish gifts from several interested donors, but the truth is that the money is quickly running out.  Our income from births has not yet begun to come anywhere near to covering our expenses, although that is certainly the long-term goal.  In the meantime, other ways must be found to supply the daily, weekly, and monthly operating costs. 

We have never made emotional appeals for funds, preferring instead to allow God to impress the needs of Casa on the hearts of those He has chosen to give.  And yet at the same time we feel that we must supply you with the truth of our financial situation, and the truth is that without a fresh infusion of funds very soon we will not make it to our first year anniversary. Truth.  So there you have it.  If you would like to participate in the on-going growth and development of Casa Compasiva as a vital ministry to the women and families of Oaxaca, then please contact us or check here for information and giving options. 

One-time gifts--both large and small-- are needed, as well as committed financial donors who can partner with us on a monthly basis.

As we near the six-month milestone, we rejoice greatly in all that has been accomplished to the glory of God, and we look forward to going on from strength to strength with our committed prayer and financial partners in place.  Thank you for joining us!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Photo compliments of google images

We have had several births at Casa Compasiva lately with many more on the docket for the coming months.  Through these births we have become aware of a disturbing phenomena among some of our Oaxacan women.  Although some births have been lovely and normal, in other cases the mamas have labored valiantly and sometimes for twenty-four or even forty-eight hours, yet those babies  simply refuse to come out!   

Coming from a Canadian/American midwifery perspective, I had previously viewed the frequent diagnosis of  'cephalo-pelvic disproportion' (baby's head too big to fit through mama's pelvis) as simply a tired excuse by doctors too eager to perform a Caesarean.  Surely, I reasoned, if they (the doctors) would only employ correct techniques, including patience and the freedom to labour and birth in whatever position the mama desires, then surely most of those babies would birth just fine. Alas, we are finding that it is not as simple as all that...

Something is going on here in Oaxaca that I was totally not expecting to find, and this is what we are concluding:  Over the course of the last 20 years or so, the profile of the Oaxacan women has changed. Their mothers and grandmas used to eat what was grown in their own gardens or what was available at the local produce market -- simple food but nutritious.  Their mothers and grandmas walked to the market, walked to their fields to work, walked to the grain mill to get their corn ground for their tortillas, and walked pretty much anywhere else they wanted to go.  Their lives were hard, but the women were strong and hardy.  All of that has changed for many of the city women of Oaxaca.
The majority of the lower- to-middle-class city women that we serve are now eating a diet heavy on carbs but sadly deficient in other vital nutrients.  Gone is the former diet of beans, rice, and corn tortillas along with the occasional vegetable!  Now we are seeing plenty of fats, white flour, and white sugar.  It could be said that Coke is the national drink of Mexico.  Ice-cream, chips, and other cheap junk foods are now readily available and not easily resisted. 

To make matters worse, in the city the women no longer walk everywhere they go. Easily accessible and affordable public buses, while a blessing, have effectively reduced the only form of exercise that many women get.  In addition, with the advent of the ubiquitous moto-taxis, many women no longer even walk to market.  We are finding that these lifestyle changes are having ominous consequences for this generation. 

Essentially, these women are eating an American-influenced diet without the balancing influence of constant exercise to offset the calories.  Consequently they are growing American-size babies in tiny Oaxacan-size bodies, with the result that those babies either grow too big to even enter the pelvis (hence far too many post-due babies) or, once in the pelvis, they cannot get out.  We at Casa Compasiva have been absolutely flabbergasted to observe too many women unable to birth naturally due to these factors. 

So what can be done?  Shall we give up and simply capitulate to the dominant Caesarean culture,since obviously those babies can't get out any other way?  Not on your life, baby!  Casa Compasiva is now developing an aggressive nutritional counseling program with detailed diet recalls an obligatory aspect of our pre-natal care.  In the works are also exercise and cooking classes!  We are teaching that while natural births should be the norm rather than the exception, unfortunately the pitiful diets and sedentary lifestyles of this generation preclude natural births in many cases.  

 If women want to give birth at the Casa, they must learn to take responsibility for their bodies and their babies and reject the bad habits of their culture.  A natural birth at Casa Compasiva therefore becomes a privilege to be earned through diligent attention to instructions, rather than something to be easily taken for granted.  The upside of this, of course, is that through all these extra classes we at Casa Compasiva will have all the more opportunities to share the love of Christ with the pregnant mamas and their families. 

Pray for us as we develop the teaching materials and prepare our staff for the extra work that this entails!  And pray that our Oaxacan mamas will have the courage and the determination to go against the temptation to super-size it!