Anne Sayre is a retired Presbyterian minister who lived and worked for 5 years as a mission co-worker in Guatemala with the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA). She established the partnership between the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and CEDEPCA through which the connection to the Northern District of the Nazarene Church was made. Because of her leadership in the building effort of the Casa, the District named it after her.
Vidal Chaquin is a member of the local Nazarene Church. At the time of the building of the Casa Materna, he was president of the Mission Committee. This position made him the liaison between the church and the Casa. Now he is the paid director of the Casa Materna and is totally dedicated to it. Vidal had a metal workshop but became so involved in several community organizations on behalf of the Casa that he closed it to devote more time to Casa Materna Ana Sayre.
Ilda de Chaquin is cook for the Casa Materna. She and Vidal have seven children. She tries very hard to cook vegetables in different ways to get the women to eat them. Unfortunately, women in the mountains do not eat many vegetables and really do not like them. Ilda has a tough job in working with our nurse to try to teach the women better nutrition.
Mariela Tiul Caal is the registered nurse at the Casa Materna. She has recently finished getting certified in using our portable ultra-sound machine. She checks the mothers regularly throughout the day until they are ready to go to the clinic to deliver. She also travels out to the villages to teach. She has a 3-year-old son.
Who we are
In 2003, after serving for 5 years as a Presbyterian Mission Specialist with the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA), Anne Sayre established a partnership between the Atlanta Presbytery and CEDEPCA. The Northern District of the Nazarene Church was chosen as the region for the Presbytery to relate to. People from various churches in the Atlanta Presbytery traveled to this area over the following years to build relationships and do various projects.
In 2005, the District, in conjunction with the National Health Department, asked the Presbytery for help with building a Casa Materna to combat the high infant/maternal death rate in the area. For five years, groups from churches in the Atlanta presbytery traveled to Cahabon to build the Casa Materna building. Often, medical clinics with doctors and mid-wives from the United States were held, as well as Bible Schools with the children of the community. Money for the construction was raised from the participating churches and from friends of Anne Sayre.
In 2010, the year the Casa building was finished, the government clinic was closed for remodeling. The Casa Materna loaned the new building, free of charge, to the government for use as the interim clinic. When the government clinic returned to its own building, the Casa needed many repairs due to the hard use of a rural clinic. Working with community leaders in Cahabon, volunteers from CEDEPCA and the Atlanta Presbytery, the building was reopened and began its service to the community. Finally, after 8 years, the Casa was ready to start its ministry.
At first only a few women trickled in. This was because the women of this district live far out in the mountains. They are isolated by the lack of transportation and the fact that practically all of them speak only Q'eqchi, a Mayan dialect. Little by little, through the work of our director, Vidal Chaquin, who visits the villages to promote the Casa, and through word of mouth from the women who have used the Casa, the number of women coming to the Casa grew. The Casa struggled for funds to operate and serve as many women as possible. The need for dedicated fund-raising became evident.
In 2013, Anne Sayre asked a few of her friends in Atlanta to come together and help figure out a way to raise money to help the Casa remain open. With letter writing campaigns, ‘Baby Shower’ parties, and other personal fundraisers, money was scraped together and sent to the Casa Materna. In the summer of 2016, the group incorporated as its own 501.c.3 – Casa Materna Ana Sayre – US – specifically to operate as the fund-raising arm of the Casa Materna Ana Sayre in Cahabon and this core group became the Board of Directors. In the meantime, the Casa in Cahabon was growing as well, becoming more and more busy and gaining more recognition and involvement from the community.
Today the Casa Materna Ana Sayre is a functioning women’s house where pregnant women can stay while awaiting labor. We are now at capacity. In 2016, we served 106 women. In 2017, as of June 30, we have served 69 women. In all, over 300 women have stayed in the Casa during its existence. All the women who have used the Casa have given birth to healthy babies and survived. This, in an area with the highest maternal death rate in Guatemala. In addition, several women experienced potentially dangerous complications, but were able to be diagnosed by the resident nurse early enough to travel to the hospital in Coban to receive appropriate life-saving care. It is absolutely extraordinary to see this tangible, working result of the struggle, hard work, faith and donations of its many supporters. This is a project with real results.
The Casa is part of the Women's Ministry of the Guatemalan Non-Profit CEDEPCA (Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America).