Gem Legacy, the nonprofit organization founded by gem cutter Roger Dery and his family, has announced that it’s expanded its scope of service to aid the COVID-19 relief efforts in the East African mining communities it benefits.
Rachel Dery, director of communication and outreach for Gem Legacy, is currently on the ground in Arusha, Tanzania, organizing the nonprofit’s COVID-19 relief efforts and monitoring new needs as the pandemic changes. She explains, “COVID-19 is having urgent and drastic effects on mining regions, since their livelihood from selling the gems they mine has virtually stopped for the last six weeks to three months.”
Africa has been less impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than other continents so far. As of this writing, there are 208 confirmed cases in Kenya, 46 in Tanzania, and 13 in Malawi. Experts say it’s because African nations have moved aggressively to contain the virus. Malawi even declared a state of emergency before the country had recorded a single case of the virus, closing schools and banning large gatherings. That level of caution is warranted. Africa is no stranger to deadly viruses, and widespread COVID-19 infections could devastate fragile communities across its many nations.
Tanzania has closed schools and businesses and banned public gatherings. But kids in the country are now going without government-sponsored lunch, putting many at serious risk of malnutrition or starvation.
In response, Gem Legacy is feeding as many mining families as it can, and with every food delivery to an artisanal mine, a water tank, soap, and CDC guidelines for protection and prevention are included. The organization is urging people inside and outside the industry to support its efforts to supply these basic needs. Here’s what donations fund: $25 feeds one child lunch every day for one month, and $250 feeds one mine and its families—along with sanitation supplies—for one month. “This is a crisis moment for mining communities,” Rachel says, “and we want to make sure they are still mining when COVID-19 has passed.”
Top: Children in an East African mining community Gem Legacy supports (photo courtesy of Gem Legacy)
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