The hidden gems helping a remote African community to shine

National Geographic photographer, Shannon Wild, travels to Mozambique and discovers how sustainably mined gemstones have helped transform a remote rural community

Photograph by Shannon Wild
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Joyful and empowered, these Mozambican women tend to their crops as they sing together in an amalgamation of vibrant patterns.
Photograph by Shannon Wild

“I feel a real connection with Mozambique,” says Shannon. “It reminds me of home – there’s a lot of similarities to the Australian Outback, with its beautiful red dirt and dust, highlighted against the blue sky.”

Watch National Geographic photographer Shannon Wild as she learns about some of Momambique’s life-changing community projects, including a remote mobile clinic.
Produced by National Geographic

Northeastern Mozambique’s sanguine earth has concealed a precious secret for millennia: the world’s biggest deposit of rubies; natural gemstones that formed here around six hundred million years ago.

Today, Gemfields’ Montepuez Ruby Mine (MRM) produces over half of the global ruby supply, employs 1,110 local people, and funds health, education and agricultural projects that are helping to transform lives in this rural community.

“Here, like so many remote regions across Africa, access to schooling, healthcare and basic facilities have been very limited,” explains Shannon. “The new MRM mobile health clinic has made high-quality care accessible to 20,000 people from ten surrounding villages – it’s literally a life-saver.”

Committed to building lasting, sustainable livelihoods for the communities around their mines, Gemfields has been helping local women to develop their skills and generate income since the Montepuez operation opened in 2012.

“MRM’s farming facility offers local women the opportunity to grow and sell their crops which is incredibly empowering, especially in rural villages where there can be very limited options for women,” says Shannon.

Gemfields has also improved the region’s infrastructure, including roads, electricity and communication networks, while new schools have ensured that 2,000 children now have a primary education.

“There’s a real pride in the school facilities and a determination to do well from both teachers and pupils,” says Shannon. “It’s been a real eye-opener for me to see how Gemfields is trying to give back to the local community: it’s making a world of difference.”

Gemfields is the world’s leading supplier of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones. The company works with community partners to improve infrastructure, build schools, de-velop agricultural projects and provide healthcare for people living in the remote rural re-gion surrounding the Montepuez Ruby Mine in Mozambique.

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