Every year on February 12th, activists around the world are protesting. Communities are urging initiatives and reforms to be put in place. Children are striving to be saved from a world of danger and politics. Red Hand Day, also known as International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, is recognizing the conditions around the world in which children are being forced to be inducted into the military. According to the 2017-18 annual report released by Child Soldiers International, over 10,000 children were formally released from armed forces and groups during 2017.
One of the major countries of conflict at the moment is Sierra Leone. The World Bank estimates that more than 400,000 Sierra Leoneans are employed in extractive industries, such as diamond mining, which is the primary industry in the region. More specifically, the Kono District of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is ranked by the United Nations as the world’s least developed country with weak social and health marks, lagging behind much of the rest of the world on a variety of different indicators.
There is massive unemployment within the country, and it is estimated that more than half of the population live below the poverty line on less than $1 a day. In spite of several national and international efforts, the measure of poverty and vulnerability remains high, especially among the youthful population.
Our charity foundation, The Greener Diamond, has recognized the major conflicts within Sierra Leone and what needs to be done to change the negative effects of diamond mining, child soldiers, and youth homelessness within the country. The Greener Diamond Farm is located in the Kono District of Sierra Leone. It is a little over 100 acres and employs and trains over 500 local, reformed child soldiers and street kids. The Kono District was chosen for the location of The Greener Diamond Farm as it is considered to be one of the world’s largest fought over areas due to its abundance of natural resources.
"In the Kono, it is not uncommon to find a diamond on the ground during heavy rains or if the ground shifts a little. Because of this, there has always been a fight over the Kono district. However, during the Sierra Leone civil war it got brutal…because the group that conquered the Kono district ran Sierra Leone and the profits from its natural resources. They will always be in conflict and on the brink of civil war. That is why I found it so important to put our farm there. The local youth are tired of mining, poverty and conflict, and now realize mining will never prosper them. This [The Greener Diamond farm] is what the local people want…they asked The Greener Diamond and we delivered.” - Anna-Mieke Anderson, founder of The Greener Diamond
It is estimated that through 350 youth farmers and 20 youth groups, about 2,850 people in 22 marginalized villages in the districts of Kono will directly benefit from the project activities and that another 15,000 will benefit indirectly, particularly residents of those communities that fall within the targeted Chiefdoms of Koidu New Sembehun and Sando.
Other benefits will include improved and consolidated stock of seeds, livestock farming, better availability of farming tools, rehabilitation and developed valley fields, operational agro-processing equipment within the community, storage and drying facilities for agricultural produce, functioning local markets (market days), and improved nutrition and sanitation and employment operation within the communities for youths and women.
Today on Red Hand Day, we want to recognize the struggles of these communities around the world, the positive impact we can have when we work collectively to change the diamond mining landscape and how we can continue to change and preserve the safety of children around the world. It’s important to educate yourself on conflicts happening around the world and what you can do to help.
The best thing about purchasing from MiaDonna, is that at least 5% of your purchase will go to funding initiatives and projects in conflict countries just like Sierra Leone to help rebuild the affected communities and individuals. Learn more about The Greener Diamond Foundation here and how you can help support the positive changes we’re enacting within the diamond mining industry.