Thriving in America
“I need someone to adopt my daughter so I can kill myself.” Samira Harnish, founder of Women of the World, was shocked as she listened to this woman’s desperation. “Why are you talking like this?” she asked the woman.The woman told of how she had watched her husband and son die right in front of her in a terrorist car explosion in her former country. She was forced to go on the run with her daughter to save their lives, eventually ending up in a refugee camp, where she and her daughter remained for five years.“I didn’t even want to come to America,” she confessed to Samira. “Well, why did you come then?” Samira asked. “I want my daughter to have a better life,” the woman responded. “Then do that,” Samira told her. “Give her a better life. If you die, you’ll destroy her. You’ll be breaking her future if you kill yourself.” Samira broke down in tears as she recounted this exchange to me, still deeply moved years later by the desperate situation that would lead a woman to feel her only option is death. Thankfully, the woman chose not to end her life. With Samira’s encouragement, she jumped into American life, learning to support herself and her daughter. Today, she smiles freely and enjoys life. She contributes to American society, and her daughter is gaining many valuable experiences. While the memories and horror of her experiences will never leave her, she is no longer desperate. In fact, she is thriving. There was the young girl from West Africa who suffered and survived genital mutilation, who suffered and survived multiple rapes, who tried to commit suicide. Coming to America was hopeful for her – a fresh start. But when she found work in a restaurant here in Utah, she began to be abused by a co-worker who would throw things at her and tell her to clean them – in addition to her already-heavy workload. She loved where she worked, but didn’t know how to get out from under this treatment. Would speaking up get her in trouble? Would she lose the chance to stay in America? Should she just stay quiet? She came to Samira in tears, and Samira helped her understand her rights and how to approach her boss with the information about what was happening. “When these women come to America, they have one thing in common,” Samira said. “They want someone to hear them. Advocate for them. Educate them and show them the way. Ease their way into American society.” And Samira does just that. She’s developed a safe community within Women of the World, where women can be heard and helped; where woman can learn to advocate for themselves; where they can gain empowering education and can contribute to Utah’s rich culture. “I want people to see these ladies,” Samira said. “I don’t want us to look at them and say they’re coming here to take our money. I just want fresh thinking. They are here. How do we make them good citizens if we’re not paying attention to them and not being a friend to them?” Samira doesn’t just talk the talk. She also walks the walk, and to date has helped 400 women become empowered right here in Utah. These women are not only helping to support their families, but they are giving back to the community at large – as well as the Women of the World community, with many of them choosing to volunteer their time once they find their footing. A donation to Women of the World helps women, which helps families, which helps the community. We all win when someone heals from past horrors, when someone learns English and finds a job, when someone learns how to speak up for herself and be treated with dignity. Women of the World heals and empowers. Please donate to help a woman gain her footing here in America. Simply choose an amount below.