WoW Holiday Celebration featured by local news

After the 4th annual celebration featuring the role models in the refugee community was complete, the WoW Holiday Celebration was featured by the local news.  This celebration highlights the successes and dreams of refugee women in Utah and while showing the organizational capacity of Women of the World for continually recruiting and resourcing the best volunteer talent and opportunities for Utah's refugee women.See these links for the newspaper coverage of the celebration: the celebration, Women of the World recognized:supporting refugee success at the holiday celebrationMs. Manal N. & Siham M. for gaining their citizenship:

America is one of the few countries started on an ideal, the ideal that everyone is created equal and through hard work and imagination you can succeed. Your citizenship is not the end of your path but a beginning, a ticket to opportunity. Naturalized citizens are more aggressive in achieving the American dream and today you join this class of success. However, America also needs you to blend your culture into the melting pot, retaining the best characteristics of both.

 Ms. Ghassak J. for achievement:

The children of our community will always remember their teachers for being confident in their success and giving them the tools to achieve their dreams. Your support of our children to transition into the lifestyle and language of America, along with your patience to their special needs and concerns is both strengthening our community and building a foundation for the future.

Ms. Alaa A. for achievement:

The continuation of your education upon resettlement is made more important in that it continues your expertise in improving enterprise and affairs amongst nations. The more we understand about our similarities and our shared needs, the greater our ability to avoid conflict over resources and settle disputes reasonably, breeding peace in the world.

supporting the success of refugee womenMs. Elisabeth N. for achievement:

Your continued struggles for your family’s well-being have paid off and now you have reached your goal – you have a safe new home and you are working in the service of your family and your community. We are thrilled that you are starting to volunteer alongside those in Women of the World that have helped you – paying forward the kindness you have received.

Ms. Sara A. for achievement:

When people are motivated and hard-working, it shows people around them what is possible and helps them become better. Mentoring others is difficult but fills you with grace and hope. Your commitment to your dreams through preparation at Banking for Women and starting a catering business will pay off for you and your family; your service in the community will help the community grown stronger.

Supporting refugee women holiday celebration volunteersFurthermore, community partners including Ikea and the Salt Lake County were recognized for their continued support of Women of the World and the Annual Holiday Celebration.  It is on the strong support of community organizations like Ikea and the Salt Lake County that Women of the World is able to serve refugee women and keep them on a path toward their self-sufficiency. 

Supporting Iraqi Women caught in the recent violence

Last night was a great night to meet at the park and hold a candle & stand in solidarity with the women in Iraq that have been raped, that have lost loved ones & continue to weep for an end to war in the Fertile Crescent. WoW held a candlelight vigil supporting Iraqi women caught in the recent violence between ISIS and Iraqi government. These women have suffered horrible atrocities and have been the most affected by the recent violence that Iraq has seen in the incursions from the north.Iraqi women and men, supported by local Utahans and by one another, stood together in the hope that a peaceful end would come to end the violence in Iraq and allow the country to reach a unified government that represents the people's desires. supporting Iraqi womenWe raised a candle of hope & unity, of support & solidarity, of peace & sisterhood for Iraq and all nations at war.   

2012 Fashion Show Highlights and Pictures

The 2012 Fashion Show  was the highlight of Refugee Month and had a large following online:


You can view the 2nd Annual Refugee Fashion Show pictures here!!!

A few other fun facts about the event:
  • There were over 100 people in attendance.
  • We received a $2,500 grant from the City of Salt Lake (Signature Events Grant Fund) for the Fashion Show and we spent a little over that for venue, music, food, presents and awards for the models, and advertisements.
  • We raised a little over $1,000, mostly from ticket sales.  We gave some free tickets to family members of the models
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It was a very successful show & everyone asked when will be the next event.  Some of our volunteers and special guests added their comments, likes and dislikes for us to improve on the next event.  Also, there is some followup on how to become a Women of the World Fashion Show Model for next year.
Miss United Nations Crowning 2012 Women of the World Princess
  • Many people liked the formal crowning of Miss WoW Fashion Show by Miss United Nation (Nilufar Sherzod).  This princess of the event is name Sedra and is pictured at left.
  • The Miss United Nation pageant would love to have the refugee models in the pageant, since their participation will help them to be involved in community service and will help them to get a scholarship if they win.
  • An example of one of the many e-mails we received after the show
    • What did I like: loved the venue. I loved how you had all different ages of models. The dresses were beautiful. I liked how we all got to mingle and chat with the models
    • What I liked: overall it was a fabulous night with a good atmosphere. It was so fun and it sparked my interest to learn more about refugees in this area.
    • Suggestions for next year: I would like to see more things for the silent auction. (a few people volunteered to put together baskets for next year all ready)
    • Other suggestions for next year:  I would like to hear more about the model's countries that they come from & their personal stories if it's not too intrusive. ( I know this part might be hard since it was hard enough getting everyone's names in order. You never know who's going to show up:)

If you have any suggestions for our Fashion Show, our organization, or want to help in any way, we would love to have you.  Please leave your comments below or go to our contact page and fill out the form to email us.  Thank you for your continued readership and following Women of the World!


Second Annual Refugee Fashion Show

Beautiful. Professional. Elegant. Amazing. Dazzling.These are just a few of the words that came out of the mouths of the attendees of the Women of the World Refugee Fashion show on Friday night. Then Founder and Executive Director spoke and added one more word: COURAGE.Fashion Show ParticipantsFor every beautiful dress, for every elegant step, for every reserved-blooming-to-proud smile – there is a story of a second-hand t-shirt in a camp, a run for your life, a scream. Each of the women in the refugee fashion show takes a step away from being a victim and toward freedom… and their footfalls echo in the hearts of all of humanity. They ran from oppression to represent the culture that would not die, they each walked to educate us in our freedoms.This year’s fashion show featured women and fashions from Ghana, Congo, Iraq, Kurdish Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Senegal, Tajikistan, Brazil, Nepal, Sierra Leone, and Karen women from Burma. In the days leading up to the event, they put the finishing touches on their clothing and practiced walking the runway with Miss Tajikistan, Nilufar Sherzod. “Nil” taught each of the women about the differences between the traditional fashion runway model and a cultural fashion runway model – the slower pace, when to pause and give the audience a greeting from the nation’s traditions, and of course, how to smile and show your pride in representing your culture. It was Women of the World’s distinct pleasure to have Miss Sherzod mentor the young models and we encourage each of you to support Miss United Nations - Nilufar Sherzod.[gn_pullquote align="left"]They ran from oppression to represent the culture that would not die, they each walked to educate us in our freedoms.[/gn_pullquote]Pierpont Place was decorated and the caterers from the Red Rock Brewery started to deliver the delicious food for the event. The volunteers and staff from the Women of the World took their places and began to welcome the guests. Over 100 guests, friends, and family attended the nights events.The talent of the supporters of Women of the World continued to come to center stage as the MC of the night’s events and KSL TV and radio reporter, the host of Cultural Connections, Nkoyo Iyamba. Using her knowledge of fashion from her entrepreneurial vision of bridal dresses and her understanding of cultures as a reporter of Salt Lake City diversity, Nkoyo dazzled the crowd with her encyclopedic knowledge and endeared them with her ever-present wit. Women of the World could not have picked a more beautiful, more charismatic host for the event and is greatful for Nkoyo’s joy in presenting each of the models and their cultural heritage.Dancing on the StageAfter a message from the Fashion Show volunteer coordinator Felicia Sanchez and a thanks to those who donated generously to the Fashion Show’s Silent Auction (see list below) by Development Director Justin Harnish, Samira Harnish delivered her message that detailed both the beauty and courage of the Women of the World and the need for each of us to support refugee women in order to develop families and our communities.Then it was time for the Fashion Show.(For more information about the outfits and cultural background of each of the fashions, see the slides detailing some of the traditional fashions)We started with beautiful little children wearing the traditional clothing of their homelands. Of course these little ones were met with the the most fantastic ahhhs and ohhhs of all of the models. It was not just because of their cuteness, they had the grace and skill on the catwalk after their time in training with Nil and the rest of the Miss Universe models.All Fashion Show ParticipantsThe teens followed, each beautiful and with an air of invinsibility, so common to an American teen. There are so many stories in this group. In the days before the Fashion Show, we met Mami and her sister Rosabelle from the Republic of the Congo. We learned how long it has taken for them to achieve this confidence in the United States, how their high school classmates made fun of their English, and how they don’t associate with any country yet. You couldn’t tell on the catwalk, Rosabelle beautiful, studious, and shy was poised, while her sister, tall and elegant, passionate about becoming a fashion model, was professional. All of the confidence of being where they belong could be seen.Finally, the adults, the mothers came out onto the catwalk. Iran, Congo, and Iraq were all represented. They brought there families, some walking the same catwalk as their daughters, sharing the pride they feel in their heritage. There are not words enough for how beautiful the women and girls were, showing from both the inside and outside. The video footage and the photos show it all.There are so many people to thank but for the part of this blog, Women of the World would like to thank the fans that attended the Fashion Show and that dilligently read and subscribe to the blog. Thank you for all of your support.

Eid Celebration

This year the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the celebration after the month-long Ramadan fast, was supplemented by Women of the World's gifts, donations, and community roundtable forum with the Refugee Service Office.  The celebration occurred at the Sugarhouse Park and was very well attended.Traditionally, gifts are given to children for Eid and Women of the World donated toys for both boys and girls and was able to find enough women to donate their lightly used jewelry to give a new necklace or bracelet to each girl.  Clothing and food was donated by Women of the World and dancing and Arabic music was enjoyed by at eid celebration Women of the WorldThe Town Hall style meeting had a lot of good information on housing and social service benefits and we would like to thank Gerald Brown for so patiently listening to the concerns of the members of Women of the World following up on their concerns. 

2011 Utah Refugee Conference - Panel on Refugee Community Successes and Challenges

On Friday morning, in front of 500 refugees, refugee community stakeholders, benefactors, and members of the press, Women of the World President Samira Harnish spoke on the successes and challenges of the Iraqi community in Utah and her vision for a future in which all refugee women are propelling their communities forward through improvements to women's health, socio-economical standing, and self-confidence.Samira's positive message for the refugee communities comes from her Utah-based work on behalf of the refugees from her native Iraq whom she's worked tirelessly for over the past three years.  She has seen them pick themselves up from the horrors of war to get educated, get employed, and use their off-time to serve the incoming Middle-Eastern refugees.  Iraqi refugees desire a quick integration into American society because of their high level of education and degree status coming from the Middle East and Samira has worked to ensure that the are quickly brought into contact with academic and business networks to enable their  success.Samira also addressed some of the challenges facing the Iraqi refugees and their social organizations.  Of primary concern is the unequal treatment tharefugee women are subjected to in startup service organizations.  The biases of the homeland are often shifted to the new country and for Iraqi's, strong female voices are pushed aside for the more comfortable, even if inadequate, leadership of men.  Women must rise to be more than secretaries, and service organizations must rise above being social clubs where only one gender feels a sense of unity if success is to be long-lasting and economically significant.

All refugees must learn that, for better or for worse, America is only the land of opportunity for those who are willing to help themselves. Samira recounted a story passed to her from her mother about the yogurt maids that, through humility and focus, carried 5 to 10 trays of yogurt on their heads. Women refugees are now equally burdened by the need to balance culture and progress, family and future on their heads and strive while remaining grounded in their heritage.

Samira Harnish would like to thank Joe Nahas for his invitation to speak on behalf of Iraqis in America and women refugees.  As his "Iron Lady," Samira promises to continue her steelyresolve in the face oppression of women everywhere.  Samira would also like to thank Gerald Brown and the rest of the Department of Workforce Services Refugee Service Organization.  Finally, a special thank you to all of the panelists and refugees in attendance and in service of one another.The full text of Samira's speeches are available at 2011 Utah Refugee Conference Panel Women Refugee Unique Needs