Rev. Paul and Mary Kortenhoven, missionaries with Christian Reformed Home Missions, served for 25 years in Sierra Leone and know only too well the history of diamonds and the conflicts they cause.
They recently arranged for a special screening of the movie Blood Diamond in Grand Rapids, Mich., followed by a panel discussion that included refugees from Sierra Leone.
Blood Diamond tells the story of the nine-year civil war in Sierra Leone during the 1990s that displaced 2 million people, killed tens of thousands, and wounded thousands more. “Blood diamonds” refers to those gems acquired through conflict. Millions of people still live with the traumatic impact of the war.
The refugees said the movie is a truthful portrayal of the role of diamonds in that conflict, and of the agony of torn families, but that it understates the horror and violence. They said that poverty, mismanagement by governments, and lack of education all played a role. They stressed the need for strong faith in God. “Your children depend on you,” said Binta Bah, “you need to depend on God.”
In 2003 many countries signed the Kimberly Process, an international system to certify that a diamond does not come from a conflict zone. The panelists said the Kimberly Process has helped but still has serious weaknesses that must be addressed to make it more effective.
Please see next month’s issue of The Banner for more on how Paul Kortenhoven helped shape the Kimberly Process. a