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Diversity and inclusion initiatives within the world of diamonds are giving disabled Namibians a bright future

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There have always been conversations around ‘disability’ and the word ‘disabled’. Who are the disabled? What is the definition of the word disability? What are organizations doing to weave them into the mainstream workforce? Diversity and inclusion does not only pertain to gender but also people with different abilities. They are differently-abled and not disabled. This is what Namibian Diamonds conveyed through their initiative.

André Messika cutting and polishing facility is a shining example of how diamonds can do good and enrich the lives of those involved in its journey from rough to final cut diamonds. At the diamond-cutting center in Windhoek, Namibia, facet-by-facet some of the most disadvantaged citizens of this African country are shaping a professional career for themselves. The company is the biggest employer of disabled people in the country, which amounts to 100,000 people of its population of just over 2 million. With high levels of unemployment in Namibia, it is particularly difficult for disabled people to find work.

“When I was taken out of school in Grade 8, my dreams stopped,” says Anna Marie. “This is the end, I thought, there is nothing I can do because who would employ a wheelchair girl who is disabled and not even educated.”

“As the source of diamonds, Africa has always been very important to me and I always wanted to give something back in Africa,” says André. He worked his way up from a delivery boy for one of the largest diamond dealers in Paris, and next year will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his own business.

“I have a handicapped child myself and I am always looking at how to help handicapped people which is why I was attracted to this project. We are very proud of what we are achieving in Namibia, but it is just the beginning and we hope to do more to benefit this country and its people.’’

In 2009 they decided to concentrate on employing disabled people and started by hiring a sign language specialist who they trained to cut and polish diamonds. By 2011 the first hearing-impaired recruits joined and were trained by the sign language specialist. What’s good for society also turns out to be good for business. The days of consumer ignorance are over. Today’s conscientious young jewelry buyers want to know where their diamond came from and be confident that on its way from the mine to their hand, it left a positive trail in its wake. A significant purchase like a diamond, often loaded with emotional connotations, needs to be a feel-good investment that has benefited more than just the final owner.

 

Courtesy: Retail Jeweller India News Service

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