Dallas--After torrential rains displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Sri Lanka, the American Gem Trade Association has been raising money to help the people of one community there.

Widespread flooding and mudslides brought on by the rains devastated much of the country in late May. According to the latest update from the country’s state-run Disaster Management Center, the flooding has displaced more than 700,000 people and the most recent death toll was 212, with another 79 people reported missing.

The center said that it was the worst flooding the south Asian island nation has seen since 2003.

Ratnapura was one of the locations hit hardest by the floods and also is an important center for the colored gemstone sector.

For this reason, the AGTA established the Ratnapura Relief Fund.  

It began getting the word out about the fund to its members and attendees at the recent GemFair event during JCK Las Vegas, including through its Instagram Story, which AGTA CEO Doug Hucker said garnered a lot of attention.

Its board of directors is providing $5,000 to the fund, as well as an additional $5,000 in a pledge challenge to match any additional donations.

At the show alone, the AGTA said it received $10,000 in donations, meaning that they will be able to give at least $20,000 at this point to the people in Ratnapura.

“Ratnapura is very important in our trade,” Hucker said. “It’s not surprising we got the response we got.”

He said the board will decide this week which relief agency it will work with in Sri Lanka and exactly where the funds will go.

In the meantime, the AGTA is still accepting donations. To give money to the Ratnapura Relief Fund, contact the AGTA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 800-972-1162.

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