By Kent Larsen
Chance Meeting with Former General Authority Reunites African Couple
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Gambian refugee Abdou Bah had nearly given up hope
of bringing his wife to the US when a chance meeting with V. Dallas Merrell,
a former member of the LDS Church's Second Quorum of the Seventy, got him
the help that he needed. Merrell's ties to politicians and diplomats, honed
from years living in the Washington DC area, helped Abdou discover the
nature of the problem, and his wife was due to arrive in Salt Lake City Monday.
Abdou came to the US as a political refugee. As a body guard to Gambia's
Vice President, he was forced to leave his homeland suddenly when a 1994
revolution ousted the government he worked for. Settling in Taylorsville,
Utah in May 1997, he earned enough to pay his wife's airfare to the US by
driving a Salt Lake City cab for 14 hours a day, and started the process to
bring her to the United States.
But after Abdou processed the paperwork with the Immigration and
Naturalization Service shortly after he arrived, he was told his wife could
pick up the appropriate paperwork at the US embassy in Gambia. Despite
repeated visits to the embassy, however, his wife was never able to get the
paperwork. It simply wasn't there.
This past fall, Abdou had nearly given up hope when one day he picked up
Elder Merrell in his cab. Hearing the story, Elder Merrell, who had ties to
the US ambassador to Gambia, offered to help. At Merrell's suggestion, Abdou
went to US Senator Bob Bennett and asked for his assistance. Bennett's
office soon discovered that the INS had sent the paperwork to Senegal
instead of Gambia due to a clerical error.
At Bennett's insistence, the error was quickly corrected, and the Salt Lake
Tribune reports that Abdou's wife, Hadiatou, was scheduled to arrive in Salt
Lake City on Monday.
Forced Apart by Politcs and Ward, Couple to Be United Once Again
Salt Lake Tribune 16Apr01 N2
By Frank Curreri: Salt Lake Tribune