Hello ladies & gentlemen, it is an honor and a pleasure to meet you all. I am proud of each of you for facing down the horrors of war and violence, taking the long trip to America, desiring and demanding peace and resettlement, and now starting a community for you and your children.
My name is Samira Harnish, a proud mother of five, grandmother of two beautiful granddaughters, wife, an Iraqi-American Engineer & founder and president of the Women Of the World.
Each of your stories tells the reason why refugee women need a special organization to assist them. As you know, when you resettle in America, agencies put the man to work, the children in school, and you are forgotten. Your needs are underfunded.
Things are bad …. Yet you still have dreams such as education, jobs, and self-confidence. So please let’s put our hands together and help one break through the barriers in front of us and succeed.
I came to America as a teen. I saved every extra cent for one university term in order to attend the next one because it was my dream to get an engineering degree. I couldn’t afford a babysitter, taking my daughter with me to class; I rarely bought food, making my own cheese & yogurt from milk; I barely had what I needed, never thinking of myself. Becoming an engineer was hard and won with great sacrifice, and without governmental money assistance due to our foreign student status.
Compared to these struggles, my first job interview was easy. And after seventeen years at Micron Technology where I developed the memory of generations of computers, I changed back to the dream of my childhood, to help women from all over the world. I wanted to plant the seed of the dream that I achieved, self-confidence, education, and respect, for all of you.
The Women of the World’s mission, “to support women of all nations to achieve their dreams,” is not hyperbole, it is possible. You have come a long way to get here, now we must allow you to shine. And shine you will! We offer our support, our compassion, our experiences and education to allow you not to balance two cultures, but to blend them, the best of both. We believe that the more diverse the community, the better the ideas, and the better the chance for success.
Let me now tell you a little bit about what we propose to do for you and the programs we offer.
In the first six months we show you a safe, peaceful place to settle, provide you the hygiene and food you’ll need to be healthy, and show you our support by keeping in contact with you for any kind of help to make your life a little bit easier easier. We will teach you how to use the transportation to get to closest grocery, school, hospital, or pharmacy. We find you English classes, find you a gym, and set up a gathering place to help you to meet other women from different countries.
Agencies that resettle refugees put a lot of rules on you, for example: the agencies will help you with money assistance if you work as a volunteer for so many hours. Isn’t enough for you, you are facing a lot of difficulty, a new country with a different language, different culture, even the geography is different. We will help you to bridge this gap.
In the second six months, after you feel safe, we find out what inspires you. We work to strengthen your position in society by helping you understand transportation and educate you in driving, teach you English, and build your computer and employment skills.
We believe that women are empowered when they are well in their bodies, minds, and souls.
Please we need volunteer to get this program going. Remember that you are not helping only the women close to you but you are helping all the women all over the world TO BE STRONG, SELF-CONFIDENT, AND RESPECTED.
I invite you to visit the women next to you, someone from a different country, and share your story with warm cup of tea. Perhaps her story will inspire you to help.