Stepping Back From the Ledge As Sisters

“I want to kill myself. I don’t want to live anymore."

What horrors did this young mother from Congo experience for her to utter these words in front of her young children?

Mami is a late afternoon walk-in to Women of the World. She has cried through the day, her dark complexion stained with sadness. She is thin, her past sickens her. She is striking. Her kids are adorable, quiet, and well-behaved. They place their heads gently on the new blanket I give them from our donation closet.

If you cannot be compassionate with Mami, you aren’t capable of compassion.

Mami's friend, Pam, brought her to Women of the World. Pam has donated all of her time today. At dawn, Pam happened past the office. It is fortunate she did... more than fortunate, Women of the World is on an industrial street, we don’t get foot traffic. It was grace.

“Mami, I know you have suffered…"

Mami cut off Samira, the WoW Director. “You don’t know my story, no one knows."

“Mami, it is true. I don’t know. And you don’t know mine. Everyone has pain and feels their own hurt is more than what anyone has."

supporting the success of refugee women IMG_7616

Mami is not her name. It is a term of endearment that WoW service staff have picked up to call central-African women. Iraqis use momma. It’s like a Southerner woman's “hun” to another woman. The respect and love of cooing “Mami” began to settle her down.

“I want to get you some help. Give you the opportunity to see a counselor."

Mami was violently raped in Congo. The beautiful kids with her are not her husband’s, they are the children of soldiers sent to rape and pillage. Refugees did not come to Utah for the American dream, they are fleeing a nightmare. Modern war is hell on earth, the most psychologically damaging sequence of events you can imagine, times thousands. You can’t imagine it, it is more horrific than your psyche will allow you to conjure.

"I don't want to go back to my resettlement agency. Not them. They don't help."

Refugees did not come to Utah for the American dream, they are fleeing a nightmare.

We get this from time to time. The resettlement agencies serve a lot more people, but they can't always spend the time needed to listen, empathize, and rebuild trust. Women of the World is different. We offer custom solutions, a boutique for cases more dynamic and difficult than the majority of refugee cases.

Women of the World offers a sisterhood.

Stepping Back From the Ledge As Sisters

"No I will get you someone to talk to at UHHR. They can help you. They will listen and give you advice to find a way to not be sad all the time."

The Utah Health and Human Rights organization is trained in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment and only serve refugees. Women of the World partners with them often.

"Can you trust me to help you?"

"Yes, I can. You are my sister."

"Yes. You can always find your sisters here.  Abby, Maya, and I and any of our volunteers we have help you are your sisters."

"I never have had family here..."

"Now you do, Mami. Now you do."

Celebrating Mother's Day with Our New Neighbors

The celebration of those that brought us into the world and that nurture and care for us throughout our lives is a key rite preserved in most cultures.  In America, this rite is celebrated on the most important holiday of all – Mother’s Day.  Many of our new neighbors taking refuge in Utah have a streak of celebrating mothers and grandmothers, even promoting them to the head of the household, but these celebrations do not fall on a specific day.  As WoW has constantly said, we do not ask our ladies to balance two cultures, but to blend them, the best of both… in light of this, we celebrated our 6th Annual Mother’s Day Celebration at the Bud Bailey Housing Complex on Saturday.IMG_8977The event was well-attended even though rain washed out the initial outdoor venue.  Our friends at the Bud Bailey Housing Complex stepped up and opened a space for our use – a real treat for our ladies from all over Salt Lake City to come in from the rain and celebrate together with food and friends.The Mother’s Day event is an opportunity for supporters, volunteers, and other community members to share a meal with our new neighbors and talk about the delicious ethnic potluck food and share in the common loving role they all share as mothers.  Kids and mothers mix between the different ethnicities to share in overcoming their common struggles.IMG_8943This year, Women of the World recognized its first Mother of the Year.  Known simply as Bebe, which is Congolese for grandmother, Bebe was nominated both by the granddaughter she serves as the caregiver for and by WoW staff for her kindness and her calm in the face of the struggles she continues to overcome.  Later that same night, at the Mama Africa Kitoko Fashion Show, Women of the World Founder and Executive Director, Samira Harnish, presented Bebe with an award from the Mama Africa Kontago non-profit as well.  Samira also recognized two other women for their contributions in the service of refugees and for their entrepreneurial vision.Women of the World is continuing to survey the mothers for the classes they want to help themselves and their kids achieve their next step in the community and if you are interested in supporting a legal/human rights or economic empowerment class ranking for these women, pleasesend us an email.IMG_9085Women of the World loves to celebrate with its members and there is no greater focus on the courage and care, the kindness and resolve of our ladies than the celebration around their sacrifice for their children.  Thank you to all of the refugee mothers that make our lives so much more complete.

Giving Tuesday in support of refugee self-reliance

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.Giving Tuesday in support of refugee self-relianceBelow 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!


Contract Case Manager

Women of the has the following Contract Case Manager position available in April of 2013.  Please use the contact form at the bottom of this email to request more information.Part Time Case Manager? - Women of the World

  • Five month contract position
  • August 1st, 2014 - December 1st, 2015 (20 weeks)
  • 10 hrs per week/ $12 per hour ($2,400)

Organization Description:Women refugees face the combined threats of:LONG-TERM POVERTY Refugee women face long-term poverty in America.  Within one-year of arriving, their entire family is expected to find gainful employment.  They have few workplace skills and no ‘nest egg’ to draw on.RESTRICTED NETWORKS The countries where refugee ladies come from have little history of integrating women into society and husbands and the male patriarchy are rarely accepting of women networking in professional or academic mixed-gender forums.  Women are cut-off from other women and feel abandoned.ABUSED HUMAN RIGHTS Refugee women often do not have a strong concept of the human rights they deserve and are swindled or deceived if no one is looking.  WoW advocates on their behalf in reforming immigration, reporting housing abuse, and ensuring equal employment opportunities.Women of the World offers solutions to these problems through:CUSTOMIZED ADVOCACY Customized advocacy means getting the job done.  It means following up and building the capacity so it doesn’t happen again.WOMEN NETWORKS We believe that our women know best how to help one another, that they will trust one another because they’ve been through it together.?We provide the path, our women provide the power. By the strength of our example and well-developed programs, we show our women how powerful they are and how they can impact others through thriving after their hardships.Internship Description:Case managers connect clients to employment, health, and social service resources in the community with the goal of helping clients become self-sufficient.The Refugee Case Management Intern will gain valuable experience assisting with a variety of professional duties that contribute to the efficiency of operations within the Customized Advocacy, Practical English, and Financial Empowerment programs.Case Management services include an array of support services such as: referral for health care, child care, housing, utilities assistance, language and vocational training, family wellness training, emergency financial assistance, and transportation and interpreter/translation assistance to help clients access and utilize services in culturally and linguistically appropriate manners.Customized advocacy builds women-to-women networks that empower English education, economic development, and/or human rights for Utah’s refugee women and their families.  Women-to-women networks offer a safe place to build friendships supported by conservative cultures upset by post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) while empowering important gender-based, socio-economic skills that are largely under-realized by refugee women.  WoW’s fieldtrips offer research, planning, and communication at financial, health, nutrition, family, service, and employment venues – skills and contacts needed to navigate Utah’s opportunities.RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Assist program manager with new client intake
  • Assist with social service applications
  • Partner with social service case managers in locating essential resources for clients
    • Attend community meetings as a representative for the Women of the World
    • Attend all WoW office hours
    • Attend all volunteer intake sessions
    • Educate WoW clients in transportation to appointments
    • Help coordinate special events for clients
    • Help coordinate WoW office hours
    • Coordinate client and volunteer data entry
    • Follow-up on reporting requirements from case managers
    • Provide case management services to refugees, asylees, and other displaced persons; services include: coordinating housing, medical appointments, inter-agency referrals, orientation/client education, school enrollments, employment placement and preparation, etc.
    • Manage office clerical duties. Including input of receipts etc into QuickBooks and providing reconciliation of bank accounts to board of directors. (training will be provided)
      • Utilize community resources and programs to assist clients
      • Maintain detailed case file documentation and case notes
      • Prepare reports and ensure program targets and outcomes are met
      • Represent the organization at meetings and other outreach activities
      • Work with volunteers and co-sponsors to assist with services provided to clients
        • Serve as an advocate for clients


  • At least 18 years of age
  • Sensitivity to the needs of diverse cultural communities
  • Must carry automobile insurance and have a clean driving record.  Must have own reliable transportation.
  • Must have own laptop for use at WoW Office Hours
  • Must be able to maintain confidentiality as it relates to handling client information and fill out a confidentiality disclosure.
  • Must be able to pass a criminal background check
  • Education or experience in Social Work or working with vulnerable populations preferred
  • Must be willing to meet clients in their homes or where the needs exist: government offices, offices of employment etc.
  • Experience working with diverse populations and refugee social service programs desired
  • High English language proficiency required; fluency in an additional language spoken by the client base preferred
  • Computer proficient including Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, and Outlook)
  • Capable of working independently with proven experience in achieving goals

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Holiday Celebration 2012 - Women of the World Tea Party

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.Celebrating with a Refugee FamilyThe 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."

Quilters Without Borders 2012

Women of the World is so happy to have participated in its second year of quilting with the Quilters Without Borders group.  Each time we sit with these wonderful ladies, we learn a lot about quilting, life, and English.  They are loving, giving, and accepting and take the extra time to explain quilting slowly and work to befriend the refugee women -- all while working on a project they love and love to give away.Quilters Without Borders - Refugee Women Quilting in UtahThe most important thing that the community can do for any new immigrant is to befriend them, to show them that they are accepted, to help them with the small things.  By helping refugee women with a quilt and talking with them in English about their families and their neighborhoods, the Quilters Without Borders ladies are helping in the healing of the women refugees and development of a more diverse, stronger community.Each quilt is the gift of warmth -- the obvious outer warmth and the inner warmth of togetherness, a connection.  The work of putting something together with hands and understanding is not lost on the refugee women of Utah, this is the way that their lives are connected -- a patchwork of understanding basic cooking over a fire, sewing with a saved needle and thread, midwifing the birth of their nieces and granddaughters.In the smiles of the women in the pictures is magical.  There frustrations melt as they express themselves in English to a new friend and reconnect with belonging to a community of women.

Dynamic Grace Home Healthcare Services

“Dynamic Grace Home Healthcare is dedicated to providing healthcare awareness to our diverse population.  We offer compassionate care, give hope, and create a trusting relationship.”

  • Experience Service in Healthcare Over Ten Years
  • Confident Source for Home Healthcare
  • Concern and care for the patient
  • Network and support for the family


Dynamic Grace Home Healthcare through well-organized operations makes it easier to do business efficiently by promoting the dignity and self-worth of all clients and making every effort to provide the best clinical care possible.Dynamic Grace Home Healthcare cares for our clients as we care for our own loved ones.Our team provides respect and great service to all of our clients.We make available benefits, services and employment to all persons without regard to national origin, gender, color, ability, religion, age, sexual orientation or race.See our full brochure here.

Refugee Holiday Celebration

“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.Women of the World Clothing and Toy Holiday Donations

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.

Women of the World President Samira Harnish speaks to University of Utah Service-Learning Class

Women of the World (WoW) President Samira Harnish spoke to the University of Utah class entitled Service Learning today bringing her message of hope and service to the refugee community in Utah. The class is designed to teach students about the benefits of service and the best methods for developing communities self-sufficiency. This seminar introduced the approximately fifty students to different non-profit organizationsOur president spoke about her experiences in leading a refugee service organization and the unique challenges of women refugees in America. She spoke to why WoW was developed and how it uses the values best exemplified in refugee women heroes to do what it does in service of refugee women. Samira also spoke about her experiences as an Iraqi-American and the delicate blend that immigrants must develop between the positive role that both cultures play on enhancing the opportunities and unique outlook women offer to employers, society, and their families.Two of the students and both of the teacher's assistants were inspired to assist, but a relationship was developed between all the youth desiring service and the women of the world in need of a helping hand that will light the path for years to come. Thank you for your desire to serve and your show of support!