News Story

French Polynesia’s First Lady and Latter-day Saint Women Mark International Women’s Day with Service to Families

Volunteers make blankets for stillborn babies and their families

Women of the Punaauia Tahiti Stake Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commemorated both International Women's Day and the Relief Society's anniversary with a community project recently. 

In previous years, Relief Society members have made blankets for babies in the Taaone Hospital. But this year, the request was very specific: to sew angel wraps or “angelines,” for baby angels, stillborn babies that die before they are born.                            

“This is the first time that a request for baby angel wraps has been made,” said Vairia Teriitemoehaa, a local Latter-day Saint leader.

“They are sometimes so tiny, there is nothing suitable for their size. We took up the challenge to sew 179 blankets and 179 angel wraps. This is a symbolic number to remember the anniversary of the founding of the Relief Society, the organization of the women of the Church.” 

“We also decided to invite French Polynesia’s First Lady, Angeline Lehartel, wife of President Edouard Fritch, to come and help,” said Blondine Sangue, Punaauia Stake Relief Society president. 

The First Lady was very pleased to receive the invitation and participated in all three phases of the project. 

"We wanted the First Lady’s support for this initial project to make baby angel wraps, particularly because of her beautiful name ‘Angeline,’” Teriitemoehaa said. “With the First Lady as ambassador, we wanted to show another way of representing women and mothers of Polynesia by supporting families affected by stillborn grief.” 

“I learned to sew thanks to this project,” First Lady Angeline Lehartel said, as she participated in the sewing workshops.

She added, “I am touched to know that my very first sewn garment will be an angel blanket which will be used to wrap a baby angel for its trip to heaven.” 

As a guest of honor and speaker at a church gathering on Sunday 7 March, she encouraged all women to foster peace in the world.

“As women filled with the spirit of the gospel, our influence, strength, and power must be used to help humanity around us,” the First Lady said. “And this is what you do with faith and commitment in your service initiatives. I am so happy that you thought of associating me with this project." 

The delivery of blankets and baby angel wraps took place on 8 March to mark the celebration of International Women's Day. 

Dr Sauget Stéphane, Head of the Maternity Hospital Department, expressed gratitude for the donations.

“Preparing and offering these special wraps for baby angels will give them back an existence, an identity. This small gesture of comfort and support will help our families mourn a baby who has left too early." 

Steeve Tchan, a local Latter-day Saint leader, said, “I want to express our deepest gratitude to our First Lady Angeline Lehartel who was kind enough to join us. It was a privilege to have you with us. To all the women of the stake, we are proud of you. We are thankful for your great ability to serve in the Savior's way. Keep shining. Continue to bring the light of Christ to whomever you are serving." 

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