Leah’s Story

It’s been almost a year since I resigned from Ruhamah Designs.I look at my two precious little girls and  know that this time now given to them is more than worth the loss of my job.  Every day now is so full of household work, cries and little voices that I barely find time to reflect.  But I do want to take this rare quiet moment to reflect and remember what and why Ruhamah Designs.

In January 2009 when I joined my fiancé Evan in his work in India, I was very hopeful to find my place, to come alongside him in the fray.  But unlike his law degree, I had studied business, particularly in small business development, and that just didn’t fit into the legal, aftercare or investigation departments of Freedom Firm.  So for a year I looked elsewhere for a job.  But I still wished there was something I could do there. Freedom Firm’s aftercare home had a jewelry project, originally started for art therapy.It was starting to gain a bit of interest from buyers, and I remember once encouraging Mala how this could grow into so much more, reach so many more girls, if it were run as a business.

At the beginning of 2010, I was stuck in the U.S. due to a visa issue. Evan needed to return to India and so left me to wait out the remaining 6 weeks until I could also return.Needless to say, I was discouraged and frustrated, but I tried to use the time as best I could in searching for a job in Pune.Until that point, nothing had opened up.Then about 3 days before my return flight, I got not just one but three job offers! One was from Mala.The jewelry program was growing and needed to spin out into a for-profit entity. Would I come on to help develop it into a business?  There was nothing I wanted more.It was precisely for opportunities like this that I had studied business in the first place! And what’s more, I would finally be able to work for the same goal with my husband, to see the rescue and restoration of exploited women.

Mala and I met face to face at Freedom Firm’s annual retreat in February. Walking along a dusty road surrounded by tea fields, we began to hash out what Ruhamah would become.This was the first of many conversations like this as we envisioned what Ruhamah needed to be and then how we could get it there. Mala came with the vision, the “birthing” of this medium to help women, the creativity, and the charisma.I came with the studied knowledge of business, organizational functions, the inside gears to get this machine moving. We came together in a perfect blend, both of us recognizing the strengths and unique abilities of the other. We were so different that we really could not even encroach on the other’s area!

Leah, (second from the right) at a staff picnic in 2013

So many times throughout my time with Ruhamah and particularly in the beginning, I felt like I was building a house of cards that could crash down at any point.  But I was encouraged and reminded that unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain they that build it.  So I really would just throw Ruhamah over to God and say, “God unless you make this stand it will fall. Help us!”  And God did make it to stand, and not only stand but grow! Amazingly,the month of March always seemed to mark something significant for Ruhamah. March 2010 I joined Ruhamah and we began the process of bringing a non-profit project into a business. March 2011 Ruhamah Designs officially launched as a private limited company.March 2012 we started the first new workshop outside of Ooty in Pune, a significant step toward our vision of offering employment to many girls in many localities.March 2013 we launched our second workshop outside of Ooty in Kolkata, doubling our employee head count. March 2014 I resigned and handed my work into the capable hands of Catherine Raja, Ruhamah’s new CEO.

Four years is so short, but for me so much happened in that span of time that it feels much longer!  How can I begin to recount all the joys, victories, struggles, failures, learning, and friendships that came in that short span.Suffice it to say I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to have worked with Ruhamah, to run my makeshift jumper cables and see it come to life. My joy is even more complete when I see it going beyond where I could take it.  Thank you Mala, Catherine, Rani, Zeenat, and everyone involved for being God’s hands to touch each of our employees’ lives, giving them dignity and a palpable taste of the never-ending, unconditional love of God. I love and appreciate you guys! May God continue to use each of us to build His house in the way He sees fit.  Blessings!

[ To read more about Leah’s involvement with Freedom Firm, click here]