News Release

President Johnson Visits UNICEF Sites in Uganda 

“We really did indeed find the one in faraway places, places that I never dreamed I’d ever see,” said the Relief Society General President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who is wrapping up a nine-day ministry in Africa.

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President Camille N. Johnson, the leader of one of the largest women’s organizations in the world, began her journey in Kenya with a late February meeting of Latter-day Saints in the capital city of Nairobi, followed by a trip with UNICEF to areas of northeastern Uganda affected by drought.

“This is an effort to go beyond our members to address the needs, the humanitarian needs, of the world’s children, and we found them. It was glorious,” said President Johnson. “It was heartwarming and heart-wrenching at the same time, but I left there feeling hopeful.”

The Church’s global focus on early childhood nutrition closely aligns with UNICEF’s work to care for vulnerable children and families around the world. The Church and UNICEF are marking a 10-year relationship this year.

“Our colleagues in UNICEF were professional and devoted and many times told us that the Church’s contributions have been catalytic, that they really sparked something and got some … of these programs off the ground, including the No Time to Waste program,” she said.

President Johnson said the efforts to assist those in need make a difference in the region.

She observed how the teams assess the children’s nutrition by using a band that measures the circumference of the middle upper arm. If a child is severely malnourished, the program has Church-provided pouches with ready-to-use therapeutic food.

Health care professionals assessed the health of family members. Mothers participated in making a porridge that included local sources of protein, such as eggs, milk and sorghum.

President Johnson said, “We were able to feed the children ourselves. I had the chance to look right into the eyes of a baby and help feed that baby."

“Our future is with these children, and their brain development between the ages of zero and five is just critical. Nutrition is critical to that early childhood development. And if we can save a child, our future is bright.”

UNICEF works with parents to develop skills to meet their children’s nutritional needs.

“These are women and some men who are willing to take what they’re learning about appropriate nutrition and how to support and bless their families and take it out to their neighbors. It’s ministering. As it turns out, it's ministering to the one, and we found the one,” said President Johnson.

Ministering in the Congo

President Johnson ended her visit to Africa in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A meeting for young adults was held on Saturday night, March 4, 2023. About 300 people attended a leadership training session on Sunday.

It was President Johnson’s first trip to Africa, and for many of the people she met, it was their first time to see a General Officer of the Church in person.

At the conclusion of the last meeting, Relief Society sisters sang the hymn, “As Sisters in Zion.”

“I hadn’t heard the Congolese sing before this visit, and it was remarkable, the passion with which they share their testimonies,” she said. “This really is a sweet opportunity, one that I will not forget.”

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