On the 21st December 2022, Diamonds for Peace held a special Christmas drinks and presentation evening to share the work being done by the organization and raise awareness of how others can contribute to this important cause.
The evening began with an introduction from Beth West, a trainer on site for the “Basic Training on Rough Diamond Grading and Valuation in Liberia” project. Beth summarized her time in Liberia in April 2022, in which she led the workshop. She educated artisanal diamond miners from 17 mining communities on the very basics of how to grade diamonds, taught them the knowledge they needed to gain important autonomy within the diamond supply chain and educating them on the true value of the diamonds they were mining.
Following Beth’s introduction, Chie Murakami, founder of Diamonds for Peace, led the rest of the event through a presentation on the other work carried out by the organization, starting with insights as to why she set up the charity and what drives her to continue the rewarding work they do. In the mission to improve the working conditions and social status of the workers in the diamond supply chain, Diamonds for Peace helps tackle both financial and educational issues.
Financially, miners get stuck in a vicious cycle where their reliance on so called “supporters” to cover mining costs means they must sell diamonds to the supporters at a lower, ‘convenient’ price, stifling any chance of profit. Further, a lack of knowledge on the value of diamonds prevents them from bargaining a higher price. To break these cycles, Diamonds for Peace aims to help diamond mining communities in Liberia through additional income generation programs, educational programs, and wider community support.
Additional income generation
By gaining skills and knowledge on additional ways of generating income, miners can raise the funds needed to run a cooperative, giving them autonomy and reducing reliance on ‘supporters.’ This increases transparency within the diamond supply chain and allows miners to be paid a fair price for the diamonds they will extract.
The main sources of additional income generation promoted by Diamonds for Peace are beekeeping for honey, agroforestry and the building of fishponds by the cooperative, soap production by the diggers’ group, and rice and oil sales by the women’s group.
It was inspiring to see how the income generation activities benefit the miners, not only by giving them freedom through financial self-reliance but providing them with skills such as creating business models, budgeting, and practical skills such as farming and beekeeping. Videos shown by Chie show the excitement and gratitude felt by the communities within the programs. Chie recounted how the introduction of the fish to the newly built ponds was greeted with such anticipation that the community members met Chie in the middle of the night to release the fish into the water.
Further community support
Next, Chie spoke about the further work done to help support the community, including support during the Covid-19 pandemic through the provision of soap and masks etc, the building of a new toilet block (in the affectionately named ‘Poo Poo Creek Quarter’) and improved environmental and hygiene awareness.
Additional educational programs to the project included Due Diligence workshops to help miners understand the importance of respecting the laws, human rights and environment. Diamonds for Peace also held a workshop in December 2022 to help promote responsible mining and an efficient mining based on science to reduce mining based on superstition, such as the belief that diamonds are controlled by witchcraft or that diamonds are magnetic.
How can others help
The presentation was concluded by an explanation of how all the work Diamonds for Peace does, the education programs, income generation and the formation of the cooperative come together to help increase the transparency of the diamond supply chain and provide important support for the miners in Liberia. Attendees, and anyone else who wishes to help this important cause, can help by donating, becoming a supporter or corporate member, and continuing to raise awareness of the important work that they do.
Following the presentation, everyone stayed to discuss what they had heard with wine and plenty of nibbles.[Insert Victoria’s video on the workshop in Dec 2022]
You can watch the recording of the talk on DFP YouTube.