On a normal day, Chris gets out of bed with the sun and starts his morning with the news. After breakfast, he gets ready for work and conveniently drops his kids off at school along the way. His commute ends at his unique workplace – the Schachter Botswana (Proprietary) Limited Molepolole Diamond Polishing Factory.
Since he was a child, Chris Mamamelala always dreamed of working with diamonds as he watched the low-flying aircraft fly overhead in search of diamonds. Diligent in his studies, Chris completed his primary education in the small village where he was born, Semolale, located in the Eastern part of Botswana. After applying to several colleges, he was accepted into the University of Botswana. After which, he was hired at the Leo Schachter Molepolole factory, where Kalahari Dream™ Diamonds are now polished. Chris has worked at the diamond factory since 2002, where he started as a Trainee Manager but quickly grew to be the General Manager.
Chris is the first to arrive at the factory to open it up and prepare for the day. Most of his duties tend to be standard – such as overseeing production, finances, security, and of course, overseeing the diamond polishing process. This process is a slow and tedious one. Since the work cannot be seen with the naked eye, the progress must be constantly checked with a jeweler’s eyepiece to ensure the high quality cut of each diamond. It takes hours of practice and patience to achieve flawlessness. This unique polishing is guided by artisans who spend up to six months training and perfecting their skills. For particularly difficult cuts or large stones the training process can take up to a year. According to Chris, working directly with artistry of the diamonds and his coworkers is the best part of being a manager.
Chris, as the last one to leave in the evenings, closes down, and locks the factory up. But, he doesn’t work these long days for himself. He spends his evenings with his family, having dinner with them, after keeping up with the news. He also does his best to spend time with his kids and helps them with their school work, reading their textbooks, and keeping up with what they are learning in school.
Over the years Chris has watched the factory grow and flourish to employing over one hundred people, 90% of whom are women. This employment percentage is a conscious choice, and is purposefully meant to support women’s empowerment. Most of the women in the community have the sole responsibility of raising their children and this job opportunity proves them with the opportunity to be financially independent, making the Molepolole Factory a place for change and hope.
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