Our Story

CASA was founded in 1981 by Nadine Goodman, a social worker from New York City and her husband Alejandro González, an actuary originally from San Miguel de Allende.

In 1981 and still today, the principal reason for creating such a valuable organization was the need for sexual health education,  access to family planning and reproductive health services in San Miguel de Allende and the surrounding areas. CASA works to mitigate the issues faced by communities such as the high rate of adolescent pregnancies, domestic and sexual violence, and  maternal mortality.

Since CASA´s founding as a non-profit organization, we have served low-income populations through health and education programs with a particular focus on adolescents and women in rural communities. CASA has reached 80,000 people throughout Mexico annually since 1981.

From CASA’s Founding Until the Present

1981 – Nadine Goodman, the co-founder and first director of CASA begins giving workshops on sexual education and family planning to local youth and women from urban and rural areas.

1982 – A program on sexuality geared towards teachers, students and parents is implemented in local schools and the first training for community health youth promoters is held.

1983 – CASA hires a psychologist to assist in the school programs and additional groups of  youth community health promoters form.

1984 – CASA is legally registered as a non-profit organization. The promoter scholarship program grows and works in rural communities, marginalized neighborhoods and schools.

1985 – The educational pamphlet “Our Doubts” is published based on questions surrounding sexuality from thousands of adolescents who participate in CASA’s sexual education program in schools. Traditional midwives approach CASA requesting lessons.

1985 – The kindergarten for the children of adolescent mothers opens.

1987 – An external clinic for general medical consultations that also provides free contraception methods opens. During the first year of the clinic’s family planning program, 564 individuals are reached.

1988 – The demand for family planning services grows; 3,462 people receive contraceptives from CASA’s doctors and youth promoters. Traditional midwives take part in CASA’s sexuality and family planning trainings.

1989 – CASA´s headquarters move to a donated building located at Umaran #82 in San Miguel de Allende and  kindergarten services are extended to serve the entire community.

1990 – As requested by local midwives, a special midwifery training program begins. A medical clinic is established in the new building along with a laboratory, a pharmacy and a dental clinic. CASA’s services reach 30,000 people per year.  The interdisciplinary team now includes doctors, lab-chemists, dentists, midwives, graduate students, social workers and psychologists among others.

1991 – Construction begins on the first maternity hospital in the country to be managed by a team of traditional professional midwives and doctors with the objective of being a place for midwifery students to learn in the future.

1992 – The sexuality program expands throughout the entire region after the formation of a team of youth promoters that works exclusively in schools within the state of Guanajuato. The program reaches 4,000 students.

1993 – Four traditional midwives complete their two-year training course.  The kindergarten services expand to Comonfort, Guanajuato and is open  to the general public and mainly utilized by adolescent mothers. A training manual is published for youth promoters. Two important projects are implemented: sexual violence research and environmental education in rural communities – both are well received.

1994 – CASA opens the first maternity hospital in the country. The hospital is managed by a team of traditional professional midwives and doctors. During the first year of operation, the hospital reaches 15,000 people. In collaboration with Population Council, a study and publication are completed on sexual and domestic violence. The study conducted interviews with 506 women and found high rates of all types of violence. CASA launches a project to reduce instances of violence based on the study results.

1995 – The sexual education program in schools conducts 114 courses for 4,110 students, 43 courses for 347 teachers and 22 courses for 1,021 parents.

1996 – CASA opens the first Professional Midwifery School and the Guanajuato Secretary of Education grants CASA official recognition for the technical education of professional midwives. In February, Time Magazine publishes an article on CASA. CASA’s services reach 50,000 people per year. The theater group “Varones” is formed and the youth performers hold 56 theatre shows for 5,802 people. An external evaluation on the impact of the youth promoter program directed by Lic. Gabriela Rodriguez, a renowned expert on reproductive and sexual health of adolescents is completed. In her research, she concludes the trust and respect found at CASA that includes the the right to pleasure and control of one’s own body and fertility leads to the empowerment of women. The research found that after receiving services at CASA, clients wish to continue on a positive and productive path in their lives. Furthermore, the study adds that “the youth promoters program is a model for care and provides guidelines which can be replicated by private and public organizations interested in strengthening vulnerable communities from a gender perspective.”

1997 –  CASA´s hospital performs 17,541 medical consultations, as well as 7,354 analysis tests, 405 free HIV tests and 539 births. As of 1997, 83,728 people have received contraception.

1998 – The State of Guanajuato approves funds for the construction of the new center for children and midwifery school.

1999 – Inauguration of the new CASA library, kindergarten and youth promotores buildings takes place. Distinguished guests attend such as representative for President Ernesto Zedillo, State Congress members, Health and Education Ministry representatives, the local Mayor, as well as Federal Deputy Martha Lucia Micher Camarena and Subsecretary of Health representing the National Health Secretary Dr. Manuel Urbina.

2000 – The first generation of professional midwives graduates. The National AIDS Prevention and Control Council (CONASIDA) elects to include CASA’s program in the publication “Mexico’s Response to AIDS: Best Practices”. CASA’s library signs a collaboration agreement with the Institute for Continuing Education of Guanajuato State for the creation of the Centro del Saber (Knowledge Center). The youth promoter program holds a meeting with the Guanajuato Ecology Institute. An article is published on CASA’s midwifery school on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

2001 – The National Bank of Mexico (Banamex) and the Guanajuato State Government  award CASA’s Childhood Development Center a grant for being one top eight programs for infants. The first generation midwifery students receive their professional license on behalf of the Public Education Secretariat.

2002 – CASA’s Professional Midwifery School organizes a conference on midwifery training and self-regulation. The conference is attended by 173 participants from 13 countries.

2003 – Doctor Enriqueta Valdez from the University of Guadalajara completes an impact evaluation of CASA’s family planning and sex education in rural communities program by distributing over 500 questionnaires to people who have received CASA services.  The results show a very successful program that is highly valued by women who cannot travel far to obtain information. For example:

*  93.5 % of those interviewed said they would recommend CASA to other people.

* 75.5 % said that they learned about family planning for the first time at CASA.

* 90 % of the women said that they feel safer because of their contact with  CASA.

* 84.5 % learned that women and men have equal rights at CASA.

The CASA hospital and the Guanajuato Health Secretariat sign an agreement of collaboration. The agreement allows CASA to receive contraceptives from the government as well as analysis services for cervical cancer screenings (Pap tests). CASA performs 1,000 Pap tests and provides contraceptives to over 9,000 people. The first “San Miguel Walk” event is held during the month of January. The staff accompanies the ‘pilgrims’ who visit the Basilica of San Juan de Los Lagos with the intention of raising awareness around issues around violence in the community and to collect donations for CASA’s domestic violence programs. The San Luís Potosi Health Secretary is the first government agency to contract graduates of the CASA midwifery school, an important step for the national acceptance of professional midwives.

2004 – A new advocacy and leadership program begins that promotes sexual and reproductive rights among youth in the States of Guanajuato, Puebla, Michoacán and San Luís Potosi. CASA and the government program IMSS Opportunities sign a agreement to work together on health and leadership programs for youth in rural areas. CASA also signs an agreement with the government office CONACULTA (National Council for Culture and Arts) to collaborate on the public libraries program. CASA takes part in the annual San Miguel Walk to raise money for domestic violence programs.

2005 – An educational radio program (REDeSS) that discusses social issues is established and transmitted live every week by a group of young people. The program reaches radio listeners in the State of Guanajuato (population of 4.5 million) and is  retransmitted by the Mexican Government through 24 community and indigenous radio broadcasts. In May of 2005, the federal Health Ministry awards the San Luís Potosi Health Ministry a national prize for its innovative work with professional midwives and for successfully decreasing the maternal mortality rate in the rural hospital in Aquismon where a group of CASA midwives work. The National Institute of Public Health of Mexico and the University of California in San Francisco begin a retrospective and prospective research study comparing the care provided by three types providers during childbirth: doctors, obstetric nurses and CASA trained professional midwives. The report concludes that that average rate of cesareans in the CASA hospital between 2002 and 2005 is 13% compared to the state average of 35%. The average rate of underweight newborns at CASA was 4.6% compared to the state average of 10.9%.

2006 – A guide is published for reporting cases domestic violence and rape. On the 27th of April, the organization Population Connection, previously known as Zero Population Growth gives CASA the leadership award at a reception in New York for the efforts to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive rights, environmental conservation and the the stabilization population growth. Previous awardees include Ted Turner and Jane Fonda. Amongst the honored invitees are the Director of Medicine of IMSS-Oportunidades (the Mexican Social Medicine Service) Dr. Celia Escadon, Dr. Thoraya Ahmed Ibaid, the Director of the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Assistant General Secretary. A team of CASA’s professional midwives present CASA´s replicable birthing model to 16 countries at a conference organized by the International Confederation of Midwives in Tunis, Tunisia.

2007 – The Ben-Guiron University of Israel conducts an outside evaluation of the CASA’s Childhood Development Center and finds the dedication and performance of the teachers to be excellent, both with the children and in their work. They were also very impressed with the social interactions between children. The Carso Institute for Health, founded by Ing. Carlos Slim, becomes a CASA partner and donor.  This is very important step for CASA as we are constantly looking to partner with Mexican  organizations. Nadine Goodman, director of CASA, is invited to be a member of the  Clinton Initiative 2007 and present CASA’s innovative midwifery model for maternal and child health at the annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Of the 1,300 invited, only 25 were non-governmental organizations based outside of the U.S. CASA commits to a five-year plan to replicate its midwifery model in other parts of Mexico and Guatemala.

2008 – The Public Health Institute of Mexico and the University of California in San Francisco publish an article in “Reproductive Health Matters” researching the study plans of three institutions: the CASA Midwifery School,  the National School of Nursing and Obstetrics in Mexico and the Medical School at UNAM. The study findings show that the CASA curriculum met 93% of the abilities and knowledge criteria as defined for safe childbirth by the World Health Organization, compared to 59% at National School of Nursing and Obstetrics and  60% in the Medical School.

2009 – REDeSS begins its first permanent campaign on women’s reproductive and sexual health which focuses on preventing the unsafe interruption of pregnancy in the city of Dolores Hidalgo.

2010 – REDeSS initiates an educational international  radio project in partnership with  the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) which started with the training of  more than 15 day laborers. These undocumented men and women live in New Orleans are trained to transmit a series of radio programs on human rights, democracy, health and orientation geared towards immigrants in the city. In 2010, the CASA hospital  becomes the only private hospital in the State of Guanajuato accredited  by the Ministry of Health and is designated as part of the public health system. Low-income people government health insurance (Seguro Popular) now have free access to the midwifery services in the CASA  Hospital.

2011 – In March, the Health Secretary and the Under Secretary of Administration and Finance in Mexico approve the inclusion of the professional midwife position on a technical level as part of Secretary of Health’s employment catalogue.

2012 – Dr. Rick Martinez,  Medical Director of Corporate Contributions and Community Relations at Johnson & Johnson writes an article  on the crucial necessity of midwives for the women of Mexico. After more than a year of discussions, an agreement is signed on June 2, 2012 that outline the inclusion of the CASA professional midwife model with government members on State and Federal levels. The country’s first public school for midwifery opens in the State of Guerrero in August. The school receives technical support from CASA and the curriculum is based on CASA’s academic model. The school is also located in an area where women don’t have adequate access to medical attention and therefore suffer preventable maternal deaths.

2013 – A new rural library opens in the Cuadrilla community with support of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. CASA´s domestic violence prevention program changes its name to to ELEGIR (to choose) in an effort to demonstrate the program’s combination of advocacy work and direct services offered to the community.  The new name stands for “Educación por la Libertad y Equidad de Género Integrando Redes” (Education for Liberty and Integrated Network for Gender Equality). Colectivo 41 is created, an LGBT program directed by young people in collaboration with CASA. One of their most important projects focuses on the prevention of suicides among LGBT youth.

2014 – CASA launches its virtual campus. Online education represents an important option for students in Mexico as public education in the country is getting more competitive and many people lack the resources to make an alternative choice. CASA begins with blended learning courses to train online tutors and assist midwives and other health providers obtain their Technologies of  Information and Communication (TIC) certification. The Childhood Development Center distributes a questionnaire to mothers and fathers to measure their satisfaction levels with program services. The report shows a 90% satisfaction rate.

2015 – With support from the Sanofi Espoir Foundation, CASA is able to distribute 150 portable computers to CASA´s partner midwifery schools to promote online education. CASA provides technical assistance to many educational institutions around the creation of midwifery study plans and obtaining approval from the necessary authorities.

2016 – Members of CASA’s investment team (CIN) meet in San Miguel de Allende with various local universities, including the Autonomous University of Queretaro (UAQ). CIN members act as mentors to the Mexican students as an exchange between the United States and Mexico. Ben Lenz, a graphic designer and  honorary CIN member spent a week at CASA tutoring Sergio Ramirez Otero from UAQ. Sergio completes his four month practice with CASA and, together with Ben produced the CASA’s annual report for 2015. In the second half of 2016, we hope to see more CIN members as active mentors and working with the new universities such as the University of Texas´s Austin Campus. The Morelos, San Luís Potosi, Guerrero and Oaxaca state governments have authorized midwifery programs due in large part to CASA’s efforts. By January of 2017, CASA hopes to have midwifery programs authorized in the state of Chiapas.

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