Gem Legacy, which is devoted to increasing education and vocational training in small, artisanal African gem mining communities, has been helping workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With many miners’ livelihoods impacted by the spread of the illness, Gem Legacy— a 501(c)(3) nonprofit—has delivered nearly 120,000 meals to their families, as well as safety supplies such as masks, water, and soap. The donations were made in part by a grant from the JCK Industry Fund.
With the Tanzanian government halting lunches at schools due to the crisis, Gem Legacy has provided 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, in a statement. “We know that the breakfast and lunch program 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. The kits, which are underwritten at a cost of $125 each, include shovels, chisels, hammers, pickaxes, hand drills, blasting tools, helmets, head lights, gloves, and sieves. They are customized 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,” said 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 Tool Kit provides them with more efficient setups that will allow them to be more productive in their mining.”
Gem Legacy was founded in 2018 by veteran gem cutter Roger Dery and his family to help gem mining communities.
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