Nationwide Press Release

Award-winning advocate for refugees available for interviews, media opportunities

Samira Harnish, founder of Women of the World, and winner of the United Nations Refugee Agency’s Americas Nansen Refugee Award, offers insight on the plight of refugees and more. 

Salt Lake City - (March 25, 2019)

Refugees and immigration are in the news daily. However, what it feels like to be in these people’s shoes is something that is rarely touched upon.

Even when a refugee is granted asylum, the life of a refugee is fraught with turmoil and challenge. They face a daunting transitions into everyday life in a new home. Iraqi immigrant Samira Harnish seeks to ease this transition through Women of the World, the female-led organization that she founded to support refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants who have found harbor in Utah.

Working and living in Salt Lake City, Harnish would run into refugee women struggling to speak English or having issues navigating daily life. Fluent in Arabic and with a unique first-hand understanding of their position, Harnish helped these women work toward self-reliance.

Leaving the corporate world to make a difference

Harnish realized the difference she could make and left her corporate job as an electrical engineer to dedicate herself to women refugees. “Every one of these women are like my mom, my sister, my mother. I see myself in them. Their beautiful smiles and thoughtful prayers keep me going,” said Harnish. She made calls, emails and knocked on the doors of government offices to ensure a better life for these women.

Providing solutions for women refugees

Fondly calling them “my ladies,” Harnish took these women in. Since its founding a decade ago, Women of the World has helped thousands of displaced women.

Rosette Kindja, single mother and a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo said, “After your heart is troubled, you come in the office to see Samira, you will return, you are happy. You have solution.”

Worthy of a prestigious award

Each year, the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency presents the Americas Nansen Refugee Award, which honors individuals, groups and organizations who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees, displaced and stateless people. Established in 1954, the award celebrates the legacy of Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian scientist, polar explorer, diplomat, Nobel Peace Prize winner and first High Commissioner for Refugees for the League of Nations.

In October, Harnish was awarded the Americas Nansen Refugee Award for her outstanding service to women refugees and immigrants. She modestly accepted the award on behalf of the resilient women she has helped thus far and will continue to assist in the future.

Every one of these women are like my mom, my sister, my mother. I see myself in them.
— Samira Harnish

While Harnish wants to continue to build up the statewide presence her organization has established in redefining Utah as a place with an abundance of resources to diminish the suffering of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants, she also wants to bring Women of the World to a larger stage to help women all over the world. She hopes to use this international exposure to continue helping refugees to live a life of compassion and self-sufficiency.

The organization strives to exemplify the economic, academic and cultural benefits of introducing and welcoming refugees into local schools, workplaces and the community. The work of Women of the World is never done and will continue until all women refugees are shown compassion and provided the imperative resources as they adjust to their new lives.

The organization strives to exemplify the economic, academic and cultural benefits of introducing and welcoming refugees into local schools, workplaces and the community. The work of Women of the World is never done and will continue until all women refugees are shown compassion and provided the imperative resources as they adjust to their new lives.

Harnish can be available for interviews and welcomes the opportunity to spread the message of compassion, understanding and acceptance she has established with Women of the World.

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