Gem Legacy, an American non-profit organisation supporting education, vocational training, and local economies in small, artisanal African gem mining communities, has been providing relief in East African gem mining regions that have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since last year, the Michigan-based NGO has supplied nearly 120,000 meals to families, plus safety supplies such as masks, water, and soap, via industry donations. Part of the grant awarded to Gem Legacy by the JCK Industry Fund is helping to fund these ongoing efforts.
With the cessation of government-sponsored lunches at schools due to the crisis, Gem Legacy has also taken on the responsibility of providing breakfast and lunch to 800 children attending the Kitarini Primary School, most of whom are the children of ruby miners.
“A $21 donation pays for a year of meals for each child,” said Rachel Dery, Director of Communication and Outreach for Gem Legacy. “We know that the breakfast and lunch programme is key to keeping students in school in a place where there are many disincentives to attendance, such as the demands of family farms. The food also keeps the kids alert during class, and we’ve seen national exam passing rates increase from 10% to 100% when the children are not hungry.”
Gem Legacy also delivered 68 Miner Tool Kits across Tanzania and Kenya, made possible by other industry donations. The kits, which are underwritten at a cost of $125 each, are customised to the needs of specific miners, based on the gem type and style of mining they are doing.
“Tools are absolutely essential to small gem miners’ success,” added Dery. “We know that over 90% of East African miners are or were farmers first. Once they found gems on their property, they began gem mining, but most of them simply use farming implements to mine, which are mostly ineffective. The Gem Legacy Miner Toolkit provides them with more efficient set-ups that will allow them to be more productive in their mining.”
Gem Legacy also visited the Gemology and Gem Faceting School in Arusha, Tanzania, to award graduation certificates to eight of the 15 scholars whose education in gem cutting is being funded thanks to a 2021 grant from the JCK Industry Fund.