Church donates to foundation launched by first lady of Gambia

The donation will help fund humanitarian efforts focused on health, education and women

Leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a donation to a charitable foundation belonging to the first lady of Republic of The Gambia during its launch ceremony May 10, 2024, in Kololi, Gambia.

Elder Tonga J. Sai, an Area Seventy in the Africa West Area, represented the Church in presenting the donation to first lady Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow, who organized the Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow Foundation to fund humanitarian services focused on health, education, the socioeconomic sector and female empowerment, said a Church Newsroom press release.

Elder Sai was joined by Samuel Owusu Amako, president of the Banjul Branch, and James Owusu Ansah, the Africa West Area communication director.

Gambia President Adama Barrow and other dignitaries from the Gambia and West Africa accompanied the first lady.

A water borehole in Bonsa, Gambia, donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

First lady Bah-Barrow, who has collaborated with the Church in other humanitarian efforts, thanked the Church and asked Elder Sai to share her gratitude with Elder S. Gifford Nielsen — a General Authority Seventy who presented the Church’s donation of 18 boreholes for Gambian villages last year — and Church President Russell M. Nelson — whom she met in 2022 at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

“I know that President Nelson is turning 100 years old this year. I am turning 50, so I am halfway there,” Bah-Barrow said.

On Aug. 18, 2023, Elder Nielsen, who serves as president of the Church’s Africa West Area, and Bah-Barrow participated in three ribbon-cutting ceremonies in the villages of Bonsa, Giboro Gidda and Kubariko to mark the development of 18 boreholes, which the Church donated. Boreholes are deep, narrow holes made to access groundwater. When mechanized they can provide a village 10,000 liters (about 2,642 gallons) of water every day.

“Water is life,” Elder Nielsen said in Kubariko. “No longer will members of your community need to walk kilometers to fetch water that is often contaminated. No longer will your children miss school to help their families get the water they need for drinking, cooking and washing. And no longer will you need to worry about the waterborne diseases associated with contaminated water.”

President Russell M. Nelson meets Fatoumatta Bah Barrow, first lady of The Republic of The Gambia, in Salt Lake City, on Aug.17, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was the first Apostle to visit the Gambia when he met with the Barrows in Banjul on Feb. 23, 2022. In their meetings, Elder Christofferson and government leaders saw the potential for collaboration. At Elder Christofferson’s invitation, Bah-Barrow visited with him and the First Presidency in Salt Lake City that August. Elder Christofferson said at the time that the Church had donated $1.7 million for humanitarian assistance in Gambia over the past three or four years.

During her visit, the first lady attended a BYU Education Week devotional given by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and toured the Church’s Humanitarian Center and Welfare Square.

“Everyone is smiling, and it shows love; and you [have] already accepted us as family,” Bah-Barrow said at the time. “And that’s what we believe in the Gambia — we believe in family.”

The first Latter-day Saint branch in the Gambia was organized on June 10, 2022, with 14 members. It is part of the Cote d’Ivoire Abidjan West Mission. There are now over 100 members in the Banjul Branch, according to the press release.

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