Hawa (middle) getting her hands dirty with planting native shrubs. Photo Credit: ECOSS.

ECOSS has seen many new faces recently. It is always exciting to welcome more passionate voices to the ECOSS family. We were able to connect with one of our newest Multicultural Outreach Coordinators, Hawa Abdullahi, to see how things are going. Hawa is part of the East African community in the greater Seattle area and came to ECOSS after graduating from the University of Washington. She speaks four languages (Oromo, Amharic, Kiswahili, English) and does outreach with the East African and Muslim communities. Here’s some of her thoughts on starting at ECOSS:

How has your first several months at ECOSS been?

I started working at ECOSS September 1st of 2021. After going through the interview and doing research on the organization I felt that I would be able to have a meaningful contribution to my community through the organization. I was really scared when I started because of I came with little to no knowledge regarding environmental health topics. Topic such as food waste laws, rain wise (specifically rain gardens), and electrification of transportation started to intrigued me. They were topics in which the East African community of south Seattle barely had interacted with. The lack of connection in the past with the community, and my lack of background knowledge made it difficult to convey the message at times. It felt like I was reading a script rather than sharing a resource or a passion. As work started to feel heavy in the first two month, I got introduced to stewardship by one of the project manager who wanted to involve East African is restoration work and other opportunities.

How did you develop your interest in environmental stewardship?

The first time I did a stewardship activity was to introduce community members to the Green Job Coalition. A program in collaboration with The Port of Seattle and DIRT Corp. I invited about 5 community member, 2 of them loved restoration work and 3 that never tried it. We spent the day by the lower Duwamish river (by Boeing) learning about the native animals that have returned due to the ongoing efforts of the restoration workers and how our planting for that day was going to affect the land erosion amongst other things.  I knew at that moment that I fell in love with restoration work and work that involved environmental stewardship.

What is/was your role in the Green Jobs Coalition work?

In green Job coalition my main focus was learning. It was almost like a training for me because ECOSS wanted to lead similar programs in the future and unfortunately it was not something they were fully equipped in. I did the hands on training lead by George from The Port of Seattle and Andrew from DIRT Corp. I did have two extra things besides learning which was being the unofficial photographer/videographer of the group and writing a report at the end of every week explaining what we did for the day.

Hawa brought in East African community members to ECOSS’ stewardship event at Seward Park. Photo Credit: ECOSS.

What is your favorite part about working on environmental stewardship?

My favorite part of working on environmental stewardship is getting on my knees and using my hands. I guess that is specifically focusing on restoration work. There is something about a physical change you create that will have a bigger impact for the community you live in and the earth that supports your existence.

Favorite thing you’ve learned (e.g. about yourself, our work, the environment, etc.)?

A favorite thing I learned is that creating small changes will have widespread impact. And that it is important to care for and understand a message you are conveying.

Thanks Hawa for taking the time to share how you’ve been enjoying your work with ECOSS!

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