ICA CEO Message


We are terribly saddened by news of three artisanal miners who perished in Kamtonga, Kenya, when the mine they were working was inundated with waters during a flash flood. It is a terrible reminder of how fragile life can be, and exponentially more so for the thousands of artisanal miners worldwide who endure sometimes dreadful hardships in order to feed their families and find some respite from the chronic poverty that plagues many of the communities that produce the gems to which we owe our livelihood. We grieve with the families and friends that they leave behind.

Last month I had an opportunity to visit the tsavorite mine of Mimo Gem Traders, owned and operated by Miriam Mimo Kamau and her husband Evan Caplan near Kamtonga. Mimo and Evan, both members of the ICA Board of Directors, work diligently to ensure that the operation of the mine is done with the utmost attention to safety, and the miners are clothed in protective coveralls, hard hats, and sturdy footwear. Experiencing the daily rigors the miners go through to bring beautiful tsavorites from the earth makes me ever so appreciative of the totality of effort each gem represents. How rare truly they are.

The most gratifying experience of my trip, however, was our visit to the Kamtonga Primary School. Just last year through the financial support of ICA’s Gems Keep Giving committee, generous support from the JCK Industry Fund, and the passion and commitment of Evan and Mimo, a well was bored on the school property, bringing fresh, clean water to the children who attend the school, their families, and neighbors. Many of the student’s parents are artisanal miners. Clean, pure water. Something that most of us take entirely for granted and access with a simple turn of the tap. To us, water, a simple turn of the tap. To these children, a life changer. 

If you want to learn more about Gems Keep Giving and the Kamtonga project, look for our InColor magazine that will be coming to you in early January. If you don’t regularly get our magazine, contact us at info@gemstone.org or reach me at doug@gemstone.org. We wish everyone a successful and joyous holiday season. 

Douglas Hucker