Thursday, November 17, 2016

What in the World is an "Aguinaldo"?

Aguinaldo is the Mexican name for the grand old tradition of “Christmas bonus.”  Here in Oaxaca that tradition is extremely important—rising almost to the level of sacrosanct!  People depend so much on their aguinaldos that come December and time for the Christmas bonus they would be absolutely devastated if the aguinaldos failed to materialize.  It is so vitally important to each worker's personal economy that the Mexican government has made it a legal obligation for employers to provide. This non-optional requirement consists of a minimum of 15-30 days' pay. Aguinaldos are due by the middle of December—in other words very soon! And as you might have already guessed, we do not currently have the funds to pay all of our staff aguinaldos. 

The Casa Compasiva collective aguinaldo bonuses this year represent a chunk of change—approximately $1200 US.  Lest you think this is exorbitant, remember that our midwives and doulas receive 30-43 pesos per hour.  With the recent plunge in the peso following US elections, this translates to only $1.50-$2.10 US per hour. Since we were not able to increase salaries this last January, the devalued peso means that they are now actually making LESS this year than they did last year. To their credit, nobody is whining or complaining about their financial hardships—these are quality, godly women and they live out their faith daily in hard work and joyful dedication.  In fact, these verses from 2 Corinthians that describe Paul's sufferings give a pretty apt description of the life of a midwife (with slight creative license). :)

 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and (in uncomfortably cramped positions).  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the (pregnant mamas and their babies).

These  women are the best---and believe me, they REALLY deserve their aguinaldos!  Please give generously to supply this need and to affirm these excellent servants of Jesus in their sacrificial work for the mothers and babies of Oaxaca!  
Lila Joy

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

And Now for Something Completely DIfferent

Up until now, these blog-posts have always been about pregnant mamas, babies, midwives, maternity care, pre-natal education, etc.  But today I want to change it up a bit and talk about something completely different---alcoholism.  This ugly addiction is having a huge and growing impact on Casa Compasiva.....why?

Ever since the day we moved in to our wonderful Oaxacan facility almost six years ago, we have had a constant presence of drunken men “sleeping it off” under the shade of our trees on the sidewalk outside Casa Compasiva. To their credit, they have been (mostly) respectful, and have not intentionally bothered our clients or staff.  They sit quietly slumped against our wall, or passed out on the sidewalk by my car, but they have almost always moved when asked. 

If you have ever visited Casa Compasiva, you will probably have noticed their blankets, shoes, and other personal belongings stored in the branches of our trees.  The men live, eat, drink, sleep, and take care of their bodily functions right there outside our gate. So what is the problem? Frankly, it is little disconcerting for our pregnant mamas or nursing mums with newborns to have to run the gauntlet of these men who have taken up residence around Casa Compasiva.  While the men might try to be polite, the alcohol does not always allow them  to know how it is. 

Yet these men have deserve respect and dignity, and we treat them with the courtesy and compassion worthy of people created in the image of God.  We do not give them food or money (which only enables their addictions), but we do give them cups of water, or medicine, or bandages when they fall down or get into fights. While we all recognize that they need help, we also realize that addiction counseling for alcoholic men is far beyond the scope of our birth center ministry and midwifery practice—especially given the fact that we have an all-women staff!

The problem has been escalating lately with the men becoming noisier and increasingly more belligerent (with each other—not with us).  They yell obscenities and threats at each other, scaring our clients, and disturbing the tranquility of Casa Compasiva.  Recently we have also noticed some dangerous drug-dealers doing business among our “borrachitos” (our little drunks). It has also become apparent that some bestiality is taking place, as well as the expected prostitution. Security is becoming more and more of an issue for us—particularly with births at night.

All of our pleas to the police have fallen on deaf ears...including a petition that a neighbour took up which we all signed.  The police seem to view the permanent posting of the drunks outside our gate as an ideal location for the borrachitos to stay out of trouble and get over their hang-overs.  There are at least a couple of AA chapters within a few blocks of us, but no one seems to be interested.  We can't  persuade them either to get help or to leave us alone.  They are men (and women) in desperate need of the Saviour, and we are overwhelmed by our inability to effectively address their issues.  

Laundry room "borrachito" style - drying clothes on the rocks

Rustic bathroom facilities- notice the mirror and comb on the post

So we would ask you to pray for them to come under conviction and to decide to get the help that they need.... And pray that perhaps some Christian men in Oaxaca would get a vision for ministering to them....And pray that the illegal booze supplier across the street from us would be shut down....  And pray that they would be respectful (and preferably out of sight) when we have clients coming in and out... And pray especially that they would find peace and new life in Jesus rather than vainly searching for it in a bottle. Casa Compasiva's ministry to the women and babies of Oaxaca requires an effective solution to this very real problem!   

Lila Joy