Women Refugee Center helps change lives of immigrant families

Before The Immigrant & Refugee Women’s Center one muslim family couldn’t receive the proper resources they need.


By: Karla Toutlian

(Webster Groves, MO) Since 1995, The Immigrant & Refugee Women’s Program (IRWP) assisted women arriving in St. Louis that came from foreign countries to make a new life for them in the United States. Sr.Elise Silvestri, started out with six Vietnamese women students and founded this foundation.

Last year over 365 volunteers and teachers took the time to help nearly 350 students from over 48 countries to help increase English and living skills. Coordinator of IRWP Sara says, “Even though our name says refugee women’s center, we help all men and women. Our organization believes in helping the community the best we can and with the resources we have.”  Programs offered at the IRWP are learning English and life skills programs that help these men and women learn the basics from balancing a checkbook, going to the market and also job placement.

Contact information

In most cases, the center only helps adults who are unable to attend formal English language classes. In special cases, they will help students that are in high school and will work with the school to ensure that the students learning outcome is at it’s best. Like for Muhammad, he’s 18 years old and came to America with his family last year.

“My parents and I left our home in Syria with just a few bags packed. We had very little money and we could hardly understand English,” Muhammad said.

Walk way to The Immigrant & Women’s Refugee Program

Muhammad and his parents came to the IRWP because they were all struggling with conversation with others in St. Louis on a daily basis.  Getting specific items and tasks done was really hard for him and his parents because no one could understand them.

“It was hard finding the resources we needed here because everything is completely out of the norm,” Muhammad said.

Like many others in Muhammad’s situation, these people seek out help to learn English and life skills here in America. Nonprofits like the Immigrant & Women Refugee Program are created not to help just women, they are created to help people like Muhammad and his family to improve quality of life in America.

You can find more information about The Immigrant & Women’s Refugee Program at :


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