Foundation History

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Nancy Schuring and Debbie Swinney examine local cut stones in Madagascar looking for special gems on their first day along with Jim Fiebig and Joe Portale.

However, after spending several days in Madagascar with miners and their children a gem of an idea was formed. They became amazed at the level of poverty, the lack of sanitation and the dangerous lifestyles of these people. The miners would walk miles barefoot to the mine and get lowered on a rope into the darkness. They would work bringing bags of dirt to the surface, wash out the stones in the river and collect a handful of colored rocks they would give to the mine owner. They would not know what they had mined. They would receive a sandwich or a small morsel of food for their efforts.

The Foundation believes education is the foundation of life and prosperity. We wanted to bring the gift of knowledge to these beautiful people and change their lives.

Thanks to the generosity of our friends and fellow gem lovers, they started the Foundation with the granting of scholarships to a gemological school in Madagascar. Soon we had graduates cutting beautiful stones and finishing marketable jewelry, bringing profits into their homes and sharing prosperity with their family.

Unfortunately, the financial political culture of Madagascar changed from a Pro-Western rule to a Communist rule and we could no longer get our donations safely to the school. The Foundation needed to move the educational program to a more secure financial and political environment.

Thanks to our dear friend Mr. Roger Dery, we found a gem cutting school in Arusha, Tanzania run by Mr. Peter Salla. The Foundation focused our efforts with his school. He has been instrumental in mentoring students in gemological careers, teaching the fundamentals of gemology and gem cutting. Thanks to the generosity of our friends and gem lovers, the Foundation donated several up-to-date gem faceting machines. In 2017, Mr. Salla moved the school to a new larger facility in Arusha.

Modern Facetron faceting machine

Classroom setting and dedication to excellence

Discovering beauty

Nancy Schuring and Mr. Peter Salla with new gems cut by the students!

Nancy Schuring, Mr. Peter Salla and students in class