By Brecken Branstrator
A student learning how to facet at the Arusha Gem Cutting School in Tanzania. Nonprofit Gem Legacy’s wants to raise $50,000 to provide the school with new, updated faceting machines.
Royal Oaks, Mich.—After a successful year-end fundraising campaign that sent a compressor to a woman-run mine in Kenya, non-profit Gem Legacy has an even bigger goal for 2019.

This year, the 501(c)(3) is aiming to transform the Arusha Gem Cutting School in Tanzania by raising $50,000 to replace all of its outdated faceting machines with new American-made Facetron machines.

The school has graduated more than 700 students from its 5-month, $450 program since it started in 2001, training those most in need from the community—including many women and orphans who can no longer be supported by an orphanage—with training in gem faceting, gemology and gem grading.

 The Derys have long supported scholarships for students at the school.

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But Gem Legacy Executive Director Roger Dery said that many of the faceting machines they use at the Arusha Gem Cutting School are 30 years old, meaning the education the students are receiving has become obsolete as standards and mechanics for cutting have dramatically improved.

Today, most of the students graduating from the school can’t find work because their skills aren’t meeting the standards of local workplaces, Dery said.

For this reason, Gem Legacy has decided to put a pause on supporting the scholarships to first update the school’s faceting machines so that they know the students are receiving a skillset that will help them get hired.

The $50,000 goal will support nine new Facetron machines—the most widely-used modern machine in East African cutting centers, according to Gem Legacy—as well as additional funds to purchase tools and supplies needed for gemstone faceting.

Gem Legacy said that, after obtaining the new machines, its goal would be to send volunteers to train the teachers and students how to operate them to meet global faceting standards, as well as expand the school’s curriculum.

“The school has done a remarkable job of fostering the underprivileged of society and equipping them to support themselves,” Dery said. “Peter Salla, the founder, believes in teaching them to facet gems so that they can provide for themselves, have confidence in their abilities, and dream about their future.”

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