In her speech entitled, “We are all in this together” which Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s gave as the key note speech to the Women of the World 6th Annual Celebration of Women Refugee Success, she discusses the importance of standing together in community, of her conviction to work against the rhetoric that represented the campaign, and to help Women of the World in their efforts."Nothing is more important than living in a safe and supportive community that upholds and protects our human rights."
Celebrating the success of our refugee ladies feels great and motivates the rest of the refugee community. For our 6th Annual "Awards Ceremony," the community filled every seat and stood in every nook to welcome their new neighbors home.
The holiday season is about care and compassion for those that have been turned out of their homes, that seek shelter in the mangers of foreign lands.Our refugee neighbors have seen the worst violence imaginable and yet, they are humble in asking for anything, they want to work for it. In fact, all they ask for -- you can readily give -- your friendship. Just like the secret of the season, it is better to give friendship than receive any other gift.You are offering grace. There is no more precious a commodity.So on 1 December, befriend a refugee woman. Women of the World has many ways that you can give (SEE BELOW).
When you are in a strange place, a smile and an offer of assistance can have profound impact. We've all been on the outside, we've all been in places where the language or culture was foreign. The helping hand changed our perspective of an entire community. Their worn shoes and sore feet have been ours, the upside-down map they hold screams out from your memories of being lost.Thank you,Samira HarnishExecutive Director - Women of the World
Women of the World has been spreading the word about how amazing Utah has been in support of refugee women's self-reliance -- see the below spot on Comcast Newsmakers that went international on CNN Headline News.More support is always needed. Women of the World knows that your holiday dollars are stretched thin, but for just $20 you can ensure that a refugee family can celebrate in the holiday season along with its community. For just the price of a night at the movies, you can help a refugee mother give the warmth of the season to her family. Just by knowing that her community is there for her -- her self-reliance is bolstered.Consider using Giving Tuesday in support of refugee self-reliance.Below is a more detailed account of what is possible when Women of the World is utilized to support women refugees no longer supported by intake agencies and who want to excel.
It was 11pm when I received a call from one of the ladies from the Congo. She was crying but conveyed with her broken English mixed with French that she had lost her wallet on the bus. She was so frustrated because her green card and her ID was in it. I had to calm her down, told her that tomorrow morning I would go and apply for new green card and ID.This woman is a survivor of war, oppression, poverty and rape, she is a single mother of three and a grandmother, all of whom depend on her for support. Her mother is paralyzed and she also needs a lot of help.The government supports her with food stamps but she only receives cash assistance if she works for 8 hours a day. She leaves her house from 7am-7pm to babysit for another family from Africa. Of course no one takes care of her mother when she is gone to work. As a result of losing her green card, she lost her opportunity to get a handicap accessible apartment (she was living in a basement with many stairs and she has to carry her mother upstairs to take her to doctor appointments).I got her a green card without her paying $460 fine, and I looked for legal places that can pay her to take care of her mother until I found one in an unknown program at Salt Lake County.Now she and her family are very happy and self-reliant because she is taking care of her mother, moved to accessible apartment, got her drivers license, and is learning English. She is graduating WoW this December!
Women of the World celebrated its second year and more importantly, the clients' continued success, with its annual Holiday Celebration Tea Party. Over one-hundred refugees braved the first snow of the season to join Women of the World directors, officers, and volunteers for food, tea, and a chance to celebrate the successes of the past year and to talk about the aspirations for the new year.The successes were myriad, including:
- finding jobs;
- developing English skills;
- learning to drive;
- navigating Salt Lake City transportation to get to stores, school, hospitals;
- but mostly, having a voice and confidence.
In order to get a raffle ticket for gifts generously donated by members of the community, Women of the World clients had to update their contact information and fill out what they wish for 2013. The majority of respondents requested more classes in English. Women of the World hopes to fulfill this request in the new year with a revamping of its English program based in Equipped for the Future (EFF) Language Literacy Standards. Some of the other requests, as written, included:
I wish peace for my country. I wish my son like our new home. I like my husband be accept at University of Utah. I like to finish my higher studying. I like to have a job and my own house.I wish for speakers (big one).My wish for 2013 is to start modeling, have a driver license, and a car. My biggest wish for 2013 is to stop the war in Congo.I wish to learn English and working as my health is beginning to get better and to bring a new car cause my car is old. A new sofa. I need a teacher to help me with English.
Everyone had a very enjoyable time in working together and developing friendships. Women of the World would like to thank its volunteers for setup, recording information, and cooking, BYU's Students for International Development (SID) for setting up a craft table for the kids. Also thank you to the community for their generous donations for the raffle, and especially to Sharon and Amy for the beautiful gifts of hygiene products that every family received.As we start 2013, Women of the World is heartened by the love and generosity that its clients show toward the volunteers that help them and will continue to grow its volunteer base to impact more refugee women by "giving them a voice and being their friend."
“It is better to give than to receive.”
Women of the World was happy to connect the giving of the wonderful, caring, and charitable women of Salt Lake City with the needs of the refugee community. As part of its Refugee Casework, one of the databases that Women of the World has kept in its Dropboxhas been that of the needs of each family. Some may need a vacuum, others may require blankets or bedding, while others request toys or computers for their youngsters. For each of these refugee families, these requests are weighed heavily on the balance of want versus need and often require the patience of months before there is any resolution. That is where the holiday spirit, and a special group of women, stepped up in a big way.
Girls Night Out Women’s Group
Women of the World counts on women of all nations understanding the unique struggles of women in other circumstances and supporting one another – and this holiday season the support has been overwhelming! The women’s organization Girl’s Night Out donated new clothing, toys, educational games, computers, and household items toward filling the needs and holiday wishes of Women of the World’s members. Furthermore, a grant was given by a wonderful donor that will be used to futher develop the Refugee Dental Health Wellness Program started this year by Women of the World.
Delivering Gifts - The Christmas Bonus of Nonprofit Service Volunteering
Even though nonprofit service work does not come with a Christmas bonus in the monetary sense, delivering gifts to underprivlidged refugee families that really need these household and clothing items is far more rewarding. The delight and thanks they share for the gifts of strangers makes me enjoy Christmas more than I have in years and gives the special sense of humanity and unity that is the REAL meaning of Christmas.
In this time of giving and good will, I would like to introduce you to Balquees (BAL-keys), an introduction which as her doctor plainly states, may be for a short time. You see, Balquees was born with a congenital heart defect that has left her tired and without medical treatment options in either Iraq or in America.
Giving a voice to women is a wonderful mission and I am so happy to be able to share in it with the Women's Philanthropic Network. Giving a voice to refugee women is critical, our ability to share in our prosperity with those who have suffered the worst atrocities of war, limited access to education, and poverty defines us as a society who live and contribute based on the ideals of fairness and compassion for all.