Refugee Women in Action
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1391 West Fifth Avenue Suite 139
Columbus, OH 43212
Ms. Linda Larrimer  
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CEO/Executive Director
Ms. Norah Bagarinka
Executive Director
Board Chair

Assist refugee women & families from Rwanda, Burundi & the Republic of Congo by supporting & teaching life skills to refugees to work towards establishing their social & economic independence in Ohio.

Organization Overview

Impact Statement


  • We brought the Pax Rwanda: Embroideries of the Women of Savane Rutongo exhibition to the Northwood ARTSpace, curated by Juliana Meehan. The exhibit displayed the talents of a Rwandan needle artists who are all survivors of the 1994 genocide.

  • We were the nonprofit recipient at The Eileen Fisher Foundation's Nordstrom Fall Fashion Tipster Event.

  • We trained 22 women through our Refugee Women Transitional Support program.

  • We received tomato and herb plants for potted containers from Lowe's and vouchers for new shoes and socks from the Assistance League of Metro Columbus for 20 of our families.

  • We held a one-day workshop for seven women through a partnership with Yoga on High, titled Healing through Movement. We worked with interpreters and taught the women stress relieving poses and movements.


  • We will help four women in our community become Association in Arts (AA) certified childcare providers through our continue Refugee Women Transitional Support program.

  • We will provide new shoes and socks for 125 refugee children in our community.

  • We will enroll 15 women participate in our Healing through Movement workshop.

  • We will open a community center in an apartment complex in the northeast Columbus, where we will expand our ESL teacher training to twice a week, with 15 students per class.

Background Statement

In 1994, more than 800,000 people were murdered in Rwanda over the course of 100 days. No one was spared the terror and violence of those days. Two survivors of that genocide, Norah Bagarinka and Tatiana Adams, founded Rwanda Women in Action (RWIA) dba Refugee Women in Action in 2007, after they had separately resettled in Columbus, OH.

RWIA was established to assist refugees from Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic of Congo. These women, men, and children needed help navigating the services and opportunities in a new land. Upon arrival in the United States, refugees are guaranteed 90-days of assistance. RWIA works to fill the gaps unmet by this support through programming aimed at equipping these refugees with skills, knowledge, and opportunities for financial independence and education.

Since 2009, RWIA has served hundreds of refugee families from all areas of the globe. RWIA is an all-volunteer organization operating from our center, a Northland apartment in the heart of a predominantly refugee community. As the work of RWIA has expanded, and networking has increased, we recently changed our name to better reflect our expanded mission. We are now known as Refugee Women in Action.

Statement from Ms. Norah Bagarinka, Executive Director

Since 2007, I have worked with Tatiana Adams to assist African women and their families as they resettle in Columbus, OH. The idea to form RWIA came from our personal experiences attempting to assimilate in America, learning a new way of living, and our ability to speak multiple African languages. We understand the problems inherent in the refugee experience and are able to guide the African women through everyday living experiences. Our organization grew out of the refugee needs and their dependence on us at all hours of the day and night. The needs of our organization are great, and we recognize these steps are only the beginning.

RWIA began by putting on programs for African women from central Ohio to tell their stories of survival, sing, dance, and sell African crafts to provide scholarships for young women in Rwanda. As our founders, Norah Bagirinka and Tatiana Adams, spent increasing time assisting refugees in locally, RWIA focused its efforts in central Ohio. In 2011, RWIA was awarded a grant from The Women's Fund of Central Ohio to establish a cooperative daycare program. The mission of the program is to provide necessary free time for the participants so that they can improve their lives through English classes, learn new skills, and receive job training. Children's Hunger Alliance directed the training and inspections for the refugee women to become certified childcare providers. We also partnered with the Assistance League of Metro Columbus in providing necessary supplies for the program. In 2012, the Women's Fund awarded a grant to continue and expand the program.



Ms. Norah Bagarinka, 
Term Start 7/2009 
Compensated No 
Biographical Statement

Norah Bagarinka is co-founder and executive director of RWIA. As an immigrant with the ability to converse in a number of African languages, Norah recognized the need to help refugee families from Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic of Congo assimilate into new lives in central Ohio. A genocide survivor, Norah worked as a translator and advisor for the film God Sleeps in Rwanda, an Academy Award nominee for best documentary (short subject) in 2006. In Rwanda, Norah was with the International Rescue Committee as coordinator for a program that aided female victims of sexual and physical violence. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in healthcare management at Ohio Christian University and represents RWIA by being on call at all times for the refugee community.

Additional Organization Information
Number of Full-Time Staff:
Number of Part-Time Staff:
Number of Volunteers: 12 
Staff Retention Rate:


Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Fundraising Plan No
Management Succession/Training Plan No
Organization Policies and Procedures No
Strategic Plan No
Additional Organization Information

 Children's Hunger Alliance and the Economic and Community Development Institute


Local Governing Board
Board Members
Ms. Norah Bagarinka,  
Ms. Laura Hanley,  
Dr. Julie Harmon,  
Ms. Jennifer Kue,  
Ms. Linda Larrimer,  
Ms. Linda Larrimer,  
Ms. Kelly Ann Yotebieng,  
Additional Organization Information
Board Meetings Annually
Board Meeting Attendance 100% 
Board Member Monetary Contributions 43%
Board Member In-kind Contributions 100%
Gender Female 100%
  Male 0%
Race African-American/Black 14%
  Asian-American/Pacific Islander 0%
  Caucasian 86%
  Hispanic/Latino 0%
  Native American/American Indian 0%
  Multi-Racial 0%
  Other 0%
Advisory Board
No members in the Advisory Board.


Refugee Women Transitional Support

A program originally funded through a grant from The Women's Fund of Central Ohio, Refugee Women Transitional Support is a childcare cooperative for refugee women. In collaboration with Children’s Hunger Alliance and Economic and Community Development Institute, RWIA trained women to become certified childcare providers, enabling them to set up a cooperative program in their homes. RWIA is no longer training new childcare providers, but supporting those women who wish to continue participating in this program.

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Language Mentoring

RWIA holds group ESL classes for refugee families in our community center and pairs refugees with volunteers for one-on-one tutoring in English language proficiency, both speaking and reading, and basic math skills.

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Life Skills

RWIA teaches life skills to refugees in their native language. These basic skills include grocery shopping, operating home appliances, using public transportation, and any other needs that may arise.

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Data reflects three most recently completed fiscal years.

Current Fiscal Year 01/01/2016 - 12/31/2016
Projected Revenue $29,000
Projected Expense $23,000
Endowment Fund No
Current Capital Campaign? No
Anticipate a capital campaign in next 5 years? No

Revenues by Source

  2015   2014   2013  
Total Direct Support
Direct Support Foundations
Direct Support Corporations
Direct Support Individuals
Direct Support Unspecified
Indirect Public Support
Earned Revenue
Interest and Dividends
Membership Dues
Special Events

Expense by Type

  2015   2014   2013  
Payment to Affiliates

Assets and Liabilities

  2015   2014   2013  
Total Assets
Current Assets
Total Liabilities
Current Liabilities


TCF Staff:

All portrait information is provided voluntarily by nonprofit organizations. An organization may decline to participate. At a minimum, information is updated annually--sometimes more frequently. Documents indicated as available by an organization are verified by Foundation staff. The financial section is completed by Foundation staff based on available documents for a three-year period.