Rockford jewelers visit Botswana
ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Gruno's Diamonds CEO Brent Meade and his wife Kathleen spent an unexpected July afternoon on their pontoon boat with Botswana's president Ian Kharma. That led to a personal invitation from the president for the Meades to visit Botswana.
As the only seller of Forevermark Diamonds in the stateline, Meade has always heard about what his company has done to transform the country where the diamonds are mined. Meade says it was a once in a lifetime trip.
"You know starting with the diamonds. Wow! We were in the World's most secure building," says Meade, "Little did I know that all Diamonds in DeBeers mines from all over the World, from Canada to Botswana all come to this facility.”
The Meades were able to get a first-hand look at why Botswana is the third fastest growing country in South Africa economically. That included a conversation with the matron of a seven-building health clinic.
"I said, ‘What was it like 20 years ago before the aids institute was initiated?’ And she paused a minute and said, ‘Imagine every day going to ten funerals. Ten a day. All ages all different people.’ And I said ‘And?’ She said, ‘I haven't been to a funeral in three weeks.’ Think of that. Those are the things that you just never forget," recalls Meade.
During the trip, the Meades were treated to south African wildlife and nature.
"This was about the people, but we saw so many animals you wouldn't believe. Over 900 specials of birds, leopards and cheetahs and lions," says Meade, "Elephants crossing streets we were driving in, warthogs walking through the hotel every morning."
Meade says seeing where the diamonds are mined was thrilling.
"It's exactly what we've been saying Forevermark's about. And now I'm here to tell you I've lived it. And we're here to do the right thing. And these diamonds are doing the right thing."