Fashion show helps, celebrates refugee women who now call Utah home

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SALT LAKE CITY — Whether it's for prom, a night out or a fashion show, getting glammed-up is something Saida Dahir loves to do. Thursday night, she and nearly a dozen refugee women walked the runway at The Leonardo for the fifth annual Women of the World fundraiser.

They modeled traditional outfits from their native countries.

“Mine has hints of yellow and hits of purple," Dahir said. “I am a Somali refugee. I came to the United States in 2004, and I grew up having two identities. I was American, and I was Somali."

The 16-year-old hoped the event helped others to see her the way she sees herself.

“When they come here, when they walk through the doors, [I want them] to forget everything they've been taught and to just take in the culture and take in the diversity,” she said.

Samira Harnish is director of Women of the World, a Utah nonprofit that supports refugee women achieve self-reliance and economic success. She helped organize the event and said the goal is to help Utahns see these women as a valuable part of this community.

“They are not only showing the beautiful dresses and their beautiful faces — they are showing they are resilient and very strong woman,” Harnish said.

Harnish said her program works with nearly 500 refugee families in Utah.

“We advocate for them in immigration, jobs, in housing," she said. “These are tools and resources to help themselves and their families."

The organization raised nearly $10,000 from Thursday’s event, donations that will go toward supporting the nonprofit’s programs.


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