The website of a foreign-owned diamond mining company in Sierra Leone states, "Our Diamonds Doing Good: Follow our progress as we demonstrate that responsible and sustainable diamond mining can - and will - elevate and empower the people, the economy, and the country of Sierra Leone."
During my second week in Sierra Leone as a Kiva Fellow, I visited Kono district where this company - among others - bases its operations, and if this trip has taught me anything, it is that there is little evidence that diamond mining has brought any positive changes to the local community, or even has the best intentions of doing so in the future.
A diamond mining pit in Kono district in Sierra Leone
"Are you going to Carnaval tonight?" the Taxi driver asked me in Spanish. Newly aware that I had not, as I'd thought, missed Carnaval season, my answer was a pleasantly surprised "heck yeah, I wouldn't miss it!"
The view on sub-Saharan Africa is changing. No longer do stories of tribal wars, starving children and endemic diseases dominate the updates from the region. A new, more hopeful and optimistic picture is emerging; a reality of solid GDP-growth, more widely practiced reasonably free and fair elections, and a wealth of natural resources that range from oil and gas to diamonds and rare minerals.
Everywhere people talk about sub-Saharan Africa as a great investment opportunity. Indeed, money, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs pour into the region to grab a share of its seemingly endless potential.
As a life-long foodie one of my burning questions before coming to Uganda was “what is the food like?” After two and half months in Kampala I’ve had my share of Ugandan food both in the city and in the village.
This month I was lucky enough to meet a man that made a tremendously deep impact on me and I can't shake the image of his face from my mind. Please allow me to introduce Hamit, an entrepreneurial pig farmer living in the Korca region in the south of Albania that I had the pleasure of meeting on a recent field visit.
Hamit, a sixty-five-year-old Romani man from the Roma ethnic community of Albanian, showed me exactly why Kiva is desperately needed in Albania.