“A Diamond is Forever”
By: Mia Safaee
“Ismael Dalramy lost his hands in 1966 with two quick blows of an ax. He didn’t or couldn’t recall the pain of the blows. But he remembered being ordered at gunpoint to place his wrists on a wooden stump dripping with the blood of his neighbors who were writhing on the ground around him trying to stem the flow of blood from their arms or staggering away.” (Blood Diamond, Greg Campbell: Prologue)
This quote may sound like its just been pulled out of a horror movie, but it was a frightful, and gruesome reality that was facing the people in South and West Africa. According to UN.org, the involvement of the United Nations and United Nations Mission in Sierra Leon had disarmed and demobilized more than 75,000 ex-fighters, including child soldiers by early 2002. The Government declared the war officially ended.
The book Blood Diamond by Greg Campbell in which, the Hollywood movie made its bases, tells the reader the cruelty and selfishness that people in Africa faced when it comes to humanities ignorance.
The lack of knowledge diamond merchants have about the stones they procure just goes to show how hard it is to trace a diamond back to its origin once it has been cut.
Diamond merchants say that the cost of a diamond ring is approximately 2 months salary. The real cost of a diamond may be an arm, a leg, or even a life in some cases. Merchants and advertisement, companies portray the idea of diamond as a status of wealth and love to the public.
However, the reality is far more gruesome than the fantasy. The diamond industry keeps the public ignorant to the genocide, utter torture, and mutilation diamond miners faced in places like Sierra Leon, Angola, and Liberia. For the miners it is just a piece of carbon crystal that has no significant value to them.
According to the World Diamond Council, diamonds makes up a multibillion-dollar industry outside of Africa. However, with the Kimberly Process place in 2003 governments, NGOs, and the diamond industry passed a law to prevent the selling of conflict diamonds to legitimate diamond marketplaces. The World Diamond Council has reduced the flow of conflict diamonds in the marketplace from approximately 4 percent to less than 1 percent.
Jacqueline Nguyen Director of Operations for Hands for Africa said, independently, we are attempting to make the regulations universal with our petition to push congress to put pressure on the international diamond trade to help stop the flow of conflict diamonds.
“Once we receive enough signatures the petition will go to congress (and hopefully an international organization) in order to put pressure on the entire diamond industry to regulate industry-wide practices of diamond procurement,” said Nguyen.
With the help of funding and donations, Hands for Africa a non-profit organization can help victims of the Revolutionary United Front Army the rebel group responsible for amputating the limbs of the diamond miners.
Hands for Africa’s’ mission is to provide prosthetics to the amputees, so that they will be able to perform activities they were not able to before.
“[However, it all] depends on availability of raw materials use to make prosthetics, which is dependent upon funding and donations,” said Nguyen.
According to the website www.handsforafrica.org the organization also implement programs to engage innocent victims and their communities to provide wells for clean water, agricultural development, educational scholarships, medical and health care support and much more. This non-profit organization helps give the victims a second chance to start a livelihood as farmers, or vendors.