A diamond can be described as a precious gemstone. The prophet Ezekiel validated diamonds as precious stones (Ezek. 28:13), and Malachi suggests that God makes his precious ones as jewels (Malachi 3:17). So, a diamond is a stone, right? A House of Diamonds means a place of dwelling for precious diamonds, right?
A DIAMOND, FORMED FROM SEEMINGLY NOTHING,
EMERGING AS A PRECIOUS JEWEL …
RESILIENT. INDIVIDUAL. VALUABLE. BEAUTIFUL.
And so, reads the website of a freedom business in Malang, Indonesia, House of Diamonds.1 The diamonds are God’s precious women.
With a vision to empower women at risk or those who have been enslaved in desperate situations, the House of Diamonds leadership believes that all women deserve the opportunity to flourish through dignified employment, regardless of their social and economic background. The artisans at House of Diamonds are paid at minimum wage rate, plus medication and education fees are covered by HoD. The women are offered flexible work hours so employees can make family a priority. The workspace is home-based – the environment is calm, friendly, and relaxed. They share breaks and meals together, laugh a lot, and just enjoy spending time together.
What a contrast to the sweatshops in Indonesia and other parts of the world – crowded, illegal and unacceptable workspaces with poor ventilation, insufficient lighting, or uncomfortably/dangerously high or low temperatures. The work may be difficult, tiresome, dangerous, climatically challenging or underpaid. Workers in sweatshops may work long hours with unfair wages, regardless of the laws of the land. A recent study at a Bandung textile and garment factory found that the workers worked 12-14 hours each day, with no days off and no sick pay. All this for an average of the equivalent of two US dollars a day or less.2
The founders of House of Diamonds, Ida & Lila, are creative entrepreneurs who are passionate about empowering marginalized women in their community. They know first-hand the life of stitching in a sweatshop, and like tens of thousands of other Indonesian women, they have experienced the abuse and mistreatment and have been forced to work 13-hour days with unrealistic production quotas … day-in, day-out. Now, Ida & Lila have a dream to lead other women out of positions of strife to places of hope through providing dignified jobs. They want to see women gain skills that will help them support themselves and their families. House of Diamonds was born from this dream.
I asked Ida how it all started. She told of how she wanted to help some of her neighbors to learn to sew so they could support their families. It was not long until she knew she needed help in growing the business, as much more was needed. It was then that Ida and her sister Lila met a Canadian couple, Sheldon and Karen Schmidt who were living in Malang. I was intrigued with what Ida asked them for.
She asked if they would mentor her.
Wow – what a wise choice!
And so, the Schmidt’s helped with market research, business operations, customer needs, and general encouragement. House of Diamonds had been registered as a legitimate business in East Java in 2012, but by 2015 it started to scale significantly.
Ida and Lila have been the beneficiaries of a family of sewers. Their grandfather had been taught to sew by a Dutch family, and he lived his career as a tailor. This skill passed to their mother, and Ida began to sew at the age of five. The first product of House of Diamonds was clothing, and then quilted blankets; mainly for export to countries like Australia, Canada, and Singapore.
Some of the women are single mothers, while some have been rescued from human slavery or abusive situations. It often takes a year or more to train them with life skills before they can be a productive worker. Without safe jobs, women remain economically vulnerable to exploitation. Eighty percent of women who are survivors of trafficking or slavery will return to their enslavement if they do not find dignified employment. House of Diamonds addresses this vulnerability through economic empowerment with a fair wage job; professional development (financial planning, maternal care, etc.) and holistic care (medical benefits, educational scholarships, and days of rest).
I asked about the integration of faith and work. Ida believes in the adage mentioned often by Patrick Lai “When people see the gospel, they will listen to the gospel.”3 She uses God’s word to guide her life, her decision making, and priorities at work. The employees, most from a Muslim background, notice the difference. God is at work in hearts.
When I asked Ida about her relationship with IBEC Ventures, she quickly mentioned Bob’s coaching and his help with developing a pitch deck; she mentioned Karen’s continued help with the website. With a ready smile, she affirmed that her request for mentoring was being fulfilled. The result has been transformed lives with employment, spiritual nourishment with the love of Jesus, and fulfilled family living.
House of Diamonds is a proud member of the Freedom Business Alliance, a global alliance of businesses creating life-giving employment for survivors of human trafficking and those at risk.
3 Lai, Patrick. Workship: Recalibrate Work and Worship, 2021, 84
Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures