By Kent Larsen
Listen to What They Say You Can Do to Help
PROVO, UTAH -- A prominent WHO doctor from Gambia told LDS missionaries at
the MTC Wednesday that listening is the best way to find out how to help.
Dr. Ebrahim Samba was in Salt Lake City and Provo to meet with leaders of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and strengthen ties with
Deseret International, a nonprofit agency originally funded and run by LDS
Dr. Samba met with a group of missionaries at the MTC who were headed to
Africa, who told him they were going to preach the gospel and serve the
people. When Samba asked how they were to serve, one of the missionaries
told him that they didn't yet know exactly. Dr. Samba replied, "That is
best. You go and listen to what they say you can do to help, instead of
trying to tell them what they need."
Dr. Samba, who has spent his career forming health-care alliances with
international agencies and won the Africa Prize in 1992 for his effort to
eradicate river blindness, met with the LDS Church's Presiding Bishopric,
BYU President Merrill Bateman and attended a dinner hosted by Elder Jeffrey
R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve. He also toured the LDS Church's
Welfare Square and Humanitarian Center, learning what the Church can provide
in short-term aid.
But Dr. Samba also looked for solutions to Africa's long-term problems, such
as disease and a lack of self-sufficiency. "Charity, however generous, can't
be sustainable. It's dehumanizing. We want to help them learn to feed
themselves and their families." He said education is the key to this
self-sufficiency, "The only reason I am able to help others is I've been to
school and to the university."
His trip to Salt Lake City came at his own expense, prompted by the work of
Deseret International and the efforts of Church member Steve Mann, who
created Deseret International's "Education for Life" program along with a
group of Catholic nuns. The program has made great strides in educating
Africans about how to avoid AIDS, reaching 20,000 people so far.
Listen to Africans, missionaries urged
Deseret News 31May01 N1
By Carrie A. Moore: Deseret News religion editor
WHO director visits MTC, talks with LDS leaders