Welcome to Sakaraha Madagascar, I've come here to the southern sapphire bearing region with the number of my colleagues in order to teach the local people the basics of field gemmology we'll be taking over 60 students and over the next six days will be teaching them simple techniques like how to use a loupe how to use tweezers we'll be doing some gem ID. Using things like dichroscope and crystal shape. We'll also be showing them some basic ways of how to identify both synthetic and artificial stones then we'll give them a little bit of information on geology and some simple mining techniques. But lastly and most importantly we'll also be giving them information on how to effectively grade their stones thus giving them a way to actually get a fair price the stories are trying to sell.
Our journey took us to the townships of Sakaraha, Mahaboboka, and Beliky Ambinany. We were welcomed with enthusiasm and a keen interest to learn more about the trade sustain their communities. The local people here derive much of their daily means from small-scale artisanal mining. The mining process is usually conducted on two fronts firstly there are those that dig the gravel either from small deep holes where they will dig laterally when they hit the gravel or once the gem bearing gravel is found they may open up the whole into a small pit.
Once there once the gravel is recovered, it is taken to a local water source where it is poured into a handheld shaker so that the material can be cleaned once this is done the gravel is then painstakingly sifted through by hand we hope in the future to be able to help develop more effective recovery methods that have a lower environmental impact that can be supplied to local miners at little to no cost on their behalf At 9am our students with shuffle in and we would get started for the day Each person was provided with a tool kit and a handbook especially developed by lawson gems to cater for the very low literacy levels in Madagascar. The book was shown in parallel on a projector and with the aid of a fantastic translator Jasmine we were able to effectively convey the course. The course was also aimed at being very practical with constant demonstrations of the techniques and theories they were learning. This even included students learning how to build their own dichroscope once they've The full kit they each received included the course book, 10x loop, gem tweezers gem grabber, waterproof torch, gem scoop a selection of resealable plastic bags, a white plastic bowl and a handmade capalana fabric bag in which to carry it all.
The proper technique for handling a loop and tweezers was heavily stressed in order to give them professional air and dealing the stones. We also encourage members within the class to aid and teaching their classmates once they had mastered the techniques themselves. Student demonstrations were also encouraged, but not only were locals used to help demonstrate, we also enlisted the aid about talented gem cutter, Tahiry Camara and again very hands-on approach was taken It must also be set the outside that classroom we also met many interesting characters. With the classes at an end we made our way back to Antananarivo.
Here we were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to present, along with GIZ in front of the Women's National Council of Madagascar. This wasa great opportunity and we felt it definitely got the wheels turning within the high society in Madagascar, with a strong focus on women in need within the industry The organization behind our project was the german-based GIZ, they've been doing fantastic work in Madagascar and within our field we were especially excited to see the mine site rehabilitation they were organizing. Over the course of our expedition we had a chance to meet some wonderful people and see some amazing scenes, but nothing was more encouraging and seeing the enthusiasm and willingness to learn shown by the Malagasy people. Hopefully it won't be long before we can get back there and help keep the fight going for greater equality for the promising people of Madagascar..