On 18 August 2023, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined with the First Lady of The Gambia to celebrate the Church’s donation of 18 boreholes in villages throughout the country. Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, General Authority Seventy and President of the Africa West Area of the Church, with her Excellency Madam Fatoumata Bah Barrow, participated in three borehole ribbon cutting ceremonies in the Bonsa, Giboro Gidda, and Kubariko villages in The Gambia.
Boreholes are narrow, vertical shafts, bored into the earth to access clean water. A mechanised borehole can provide a village with 10,000 liters of clean water each day. The Church worked with the First Lady’s foundation, the Fatoumata Bah Barrow Foundation (FABB) to identify the villages in The Gambia that would most benefit from the boreholes. The ribbon cutting events were held to celebrate the completion of the borehole construction in the 18 selected villages. Each borehole included a 5000 liter holding tank.
“Water is life,” said Elder Nielsen to the villagers 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.”
Elder Nielsen was accompanied by Flint Mensah, Director of Temporal Affairs in the West Africa Area, and Marian Esiape, Manager of Welfare and Self Reliance for the Church. The ceremonies were also attended by many local dignitaries, religious and traditional leaders.
“Clean water has always been a major concern in our village,” said Louie P. Mendy, a member of the Village Development Council in Bonsa. “This is a problem now solved. This borehole will benefit our community for many years to come.”
Salieu Badjii, the Alkalo (village leader) in Giboro Gidda said, “Water makes a human being complete. This generous donation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes our village complete. We thank the Church and her Excellency for making us whole.”
The ceremonies were also attended by the Governor of the West Coast Region, Ousman Bojang. He noted the partnership between FABB and the Church. “This is not an accident that these things are done,” he said in the Kubariko Village. “The generosity of the Church, and the vision of the First Lady and her foundation, made this possible. Because of them you know that Kubariko is not forgotten.”
When installing the mechanized boreholes, the Church provides training on maintenance and repair to village representatives. The Governor pleaded with the villages to maintain the equipment saying, “In donating this equipment, the Church is challenging you to provide the proper care it so it will benefit your children and grandchildren.”
“We know that these boreholes are not just infrastructure projects. They represent hope and progress,” said Elder Nielsen. “We can see the power of collaboration and collective efforts and how this can transform our communities. We can all have immense impact in our communities when we work together…. inter-faith, ethnic leaders, government and community leaders, and most of all, the community members.”
The following day, Elder Nielsen and other Church representatives met with the First Lady at the Presidential palace in Banjul. Over lunch they discussed the relationship between the Church and the government of The Gambia. The Church has assisted the people of The Gambia in the past by supporting food initiatives, donating equipment and supplies to hospitals, and working with disaster relief efforts throughout the country.
“I see God’s hand in this. Loving God means loving our neighbor, and that is what inspires our members to donate to these worthy and sacred projects. Please accept this donation as a representation of God’s love for you,” Elder Nielsen concluded.
On 24 February 2022, Elder D. Todd Christofferson dedicated the land of The Gambia for missionary work. A month later the first branch was established in Banjul with 14 members. The branch continues to thrive 18 months later with over 50 members.