Fortune Zindi at the African Leadership Academy.
Brilliant Earth is excited to announce that we’ve funded a one-year scholarship for a student at the African Leadership Academy (ALA), a leadership training school in South Africa. ALA, an innovative school that has won international acclaim, draws exceptional high school graduates from all over Africa and educates them to become ethical leaders—leaders who can one day transform the continent into a more peaceful and prosperous place. The student receiving our scholarship is a 19-year-old Zimbabwean student named Fortune Zindi.
Like the majority of children in Zimbabwe, Fortune grew up in a family of limited means. His father passed away, and his mother struggled to support him and his older siblings. Despite this hardship, Fortune excelled academically and held leadership roles at school, in sports, and at his church. When he noticed that the grounds near his local hospital were badly neglected and had become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and snakes, Fortune organized a group of fellow students to clean up the area and cut the grass. The hospital appreciated Fortune’s leadership, and helping maintain the hospital grounds has become an ongoing project at the high school.
After building upon his natural leadership abilities at ALA, Fortune will attend college in the United States. In the long term, he wants to become a social entrepreneur, creating businesses that will bring sustainable economic development to his home continent.
Diamonds have brought little wealth to the people of Zimbabwe, which has 95% unemployment and is heavily dependent on foreign food aid. In 2008, the Zimbabwean military seized control of a massive diamond deposit in eastern Zimbabwe, killing hundreds of local residents in the process. The military then proceeded to use brutal methods—including forced labor, child labor, torture, and sexual violence—to control mining there. Although the situation has improved, many local residents have been forced out of their homes, and Zimbabwe’s corrupt leadership has stolen much of the profits.
We believe that educating future leaders such as Fortune can help end abuses like those being committed in Zimbabwe and other resource-rich countries. Education has the power to create vibrant economies that are not so dependent on natural resources. It also has the power to foster ethical leadership that manages natural resources fairly and transparently and that breaks cycles of poverty and injustice.
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