This Woman Devotes Her Life to Helping Female Refugees
Here’s the harsh reality:
Female refugees are more oppressed, the victims of greater violence, and less supported than any other refugee group. When they arrive in Utah, their conservative cultures require them to maintain the home and raise children, their family’s poverty requires that they go into the workforce, often without adequate English or skills to do so. Female refugees suffer PTSD, domestic violence, social ostracism but have few social safety nets to fall into when they are overwhelmed.
This, according to Samira Harnish, an accomplished, retired engineer who has devoted herself to serving refugee women.
Samira’s organization, Women of the World, is here to help. She says, “Women of the World serves and advocates on behalf of female refugees independent of their time in the United States. WoW ensures women feel at home before developing a customized service package for them which can include our Practical English Program, partnering with mental and physical health professionals, immigration or housing agencies, or enrollment in our Economic Empowerment program. We work until our ladies our self-reliant and then recognize them to make role models out of their efforts.”
Faced with the daunting challenge of helping women from around the world to overcome seemingly overwhelming problems, Samira strikes an optimistic tone. “Women are the pillar of the family and when they have a voice, an agent of change for the entire community. Women of the World not only creates in roads for refugees, but also serves to educate the broader Utah populace to the struggles and perseverance of our new neighbors and ways they can get involved.”
She adds, “Indeed it is easy to help female refugees, you befriend them and speak to them in English, this practice and social network will ensure they become active citizens”
On Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 3:00 Eastern, Samira will join me for a live discussion about her work in helping refugees. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Women of the World:
Women of the World is a women’s refugee service organization that helps women move from victim to active citizens in the SLC community. We accomplish this through our programs of Customized Advocacy, Practical English, and Economic Empowerment. Women of the World is a five year young organization that helps refugee women that are no longer getting resettlement assistance in all of their roles in order to attain our mission of Supporting Refugee Women to Achieve Self Reliance, Economic Empowerment, and a Voice in the Community. Women of the World has been granted the SLC Mayor’s Award for Diversity and Human Rights along with numerous foundation grants. Women of the World’s Annual Fashion Show during the International Women’s Day is a signature event for teaching Utahans about the cultures and trials of our new neighbors.
Samira Harnish, courtesy of Women of the World
Samira Harnish is the Founder & Executive Director of The Women of the World, a non-profit helping refugee women achieve self-reliance. She struggled against bigotry and poverty to get her degree in Civil Engineering and, after settling in Boise, getting a job as a semiconductor manufacturing engineer. As a research and development engineer, Samira was integral to the development some of the most advanced memory products ever assembled. When she retired, Samira was in charge of storage node development at the largest domestic manufacturer of semiconductor memory.
Samira has always served her community. She has been responsible for educating young women in the sciences as a member of Women in Engineering, assisting the elderly in Meals on Wheels, and interpreting in Arabic in the courts and healthcare sectors. In Utah, she served as an officer in the Iraqi Community of Utah and as a contractor at Utah Health and Human Rights Department. In 2010, Samira founded Women of the World to fulfill a lifelong dream of assisting women refugees who had suffered mental and physical trauma in war and camps to achieve self-sufficiency in her adopted country of America. Women of the World is Samira’s heart on her sleeve, a 24/7 small business with the mission of supporting refugee women to achieve self-reliance, a voice in the community, and empowering economic success. Samira has received numerous awards for her service work including Enlightened 50 and the Mayor’s Diversity and Human Right’s Award.
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