End of Year Letter

Every 90 seconds, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from complications in childbirth. Compared to rates in the United States, women in Haiti are 28 times more at risk.

Most of these maternal deaths are caused by eclampsia, sepsis, and postpartum hemorrhage (bleeding). Basically, most of these deaths are preventable through education, routine prenatal care and delivery with a trained birth attendant.

We, Breath of Life Haiti, passionately believe that together we can make a change in the lives of women and children in Dèsarmes, Haiti. Life is a precious gift, and women should not have to fear their life or the life of their newborn.

In Dèsarmes, a mountainous village located in the Artibonite, most women are going through their entire pregnancy without having seen a healthcare professional. Women are often times giving birth on the dirt floor of their homes with a person who has no gloves, or sterile instrument to cut the umbilical cord; therefore significantly increasing the chances of disease and infection for mom and baby.

A mother and her child walking the streets in Dèsarmes, Haiti.

A mother and her child walking the streets in Dèsarmes, Haiti.

Through your generous support, we have had the opportunity for 90 women to participate in our two-day pregnancy class. Expectant mothers learn about baby development inside the womb and experience hearing their baby’s heartbeat. Lessons include hygiene, nutrition, how to prepare for labor, signs of labor, breastfeeding and more. For the first time in their lives, mothers are being empowered through education by learning about their bodies and pregnancy.

New moms also have the opportunity to participate in our “New Mama” program after the baby is born. New moms are learning about breastfeeding, recognition and prevention of illness/disease, family planning, infant development and more. We started the program in June and have had 29 moms successfully complete the classes.

Expectant mothers patiently waiting for class.

Expectant mothers patiently waiting for class.

Through our enrichment program 72 women have learned how to hand-sew. This skill allows women to mend or make clothes for their family and potentially start a business to earn an income for their household.

We value education and understand the opportunity it gives for lives to be transformed. In the spring of this year, we started a literacy program for women in the community. Three times a week, 28 women gather at the church to learn how to read and write together. Our dream is that women will be able to run their business more efficiently, read story books to their children and read God’s Word!

In August, through your financial support, Nurse Timay began her journey to become the first midwife in her community! While speaking with Nurse Timay about her midwifery course, she said, “I especially enjoy learning about birth and the active management of the third stage of labor now, and look forward to the day when I can go back to my community as a midwife graduate since there are no other midwives there.” Nurse Timay will graduate in the summer of 2016 where she will then continue to work alongside us and become a paid midwife through our organization.

Nurse Timay checking an expectant mother's blood pressure.

Nurse Timay checking an expectant mother’s blood pressure.

And finally but certainly not least, this spring, we purchased the land for the future birthing center. The birthing center will be the central location for all maternal health, education classes and enrichment programs. A place where women will gather together to receive excellent care from trained birth attendants, encouragement, empowerment, safety, peace and spiritual nutrition.

God is doing amazing things in the hearts and lives of the women and families in the community. Our goals and vision for the 2016 year is growth, and includes spreading awareness about our mission, continuing to grow partnerships, expanding the literacy course, employing Nurse Timay as the first midwife in the community and begin the planning and design for the future birthing center with a goal to break ground in 2016.

We are continually reminding the women in our programs that life is truly the greatest gift from God and is sacred. Unfortunately as the women in Haiti know well, life is unpredictable and the future is often unknown.

A mother and daughter patiently waiting at the medical clinic.

A mother and daughter patiently waiting at the medical clinic.

No matter how much we try to prepare for our future, our processions and financial investments are not guaranteed on earth. The only true, secure investment is into the lives of others. The investment into others actually grows and deepens over time and has the potential to have a ripple effect.

Each day brings new challenges and we do not know when our last breath of life will be, but we can rest assured that we serve a faithful God and his mercies are new every morning.

Our heart and mission is to walk alongside and breathe life into the women and families in one of their most monument times in their life (bringing life into the world!) by providing care and showing the love of Christ and sharing God’s Word.

Would you prayerfully consider helping us grow our vision and impact into the lives of women and families in Dèsarmes, Haiti? Thank you for your continued prayers, encouragement and financials support.

With gratitude and warm wishes this Christmas season,

Ashley Stills
President + Founder

About Ashley Stills

Ashley is the founder and director of Breath of Life Haiti. Breath of Life Haiti is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to empower the people of Haiti through education; while fighting maternal and infant mortality by providing midwifery care and sharing the love of Christ.