People of Willmar – Hamdi Kosar

It was a regular day in the refugee camp deep in Kenya, until a newborn baby let out her first cries.  Her name would be Hamdi, and she was just beginning to find her voice.

Hamdi moved to America with her family at the age of 12.  The family first arrived in Arizona where life was very different and challenging.  The schools did not allow them to wear Hijabs and there were very few people of their culture.  It was isolating and lonely.  They then spent a short time in Minneapolis where she attended the Best Academy, which felt much more comfortable.  There were many Somali students, hijabs were ok, and the food was familiar.

Hamdi has a soft spot for the homeless, because she can relate on some level.   She had witnessed homelessness before their move to America.  Additionally, when their family of 13 people relocated to Willmar and it was extremely difficult to find housing for all of them.

Hamdi has written a book that describes her experiences during High School in Willmar, it is called “To the Beautiful You.”   One of the most rewarding parts of being a published author for Hamdi, is when someone stops her and says they read her book.  Her second book is a work in progress as her life unfolds.

Hamdi grew in many ways during High School, one of those was through a job with Amway.  She was a painfully shy girl who kept to herself and rarely made eye contact.  When she signed on with Amway, they provided her with leadership training. Doing the job forced her to break outside of her comfort zone and communicate with people.  She credits that experience as being pivotal and a building block of who she is today.  She only sold Amway for a year, but the skills she gained have benefited her greatly.  Hamdi can now be found doing community presentations, she has done public speaking engagements at Ridgewater College as well as other places.  She and a friend air a TV program aimed at supporting the Somali community with topics such as health care, mental health, and politics.

Hamdi initially thought she wanted to help people with immigration, but as she went to college to be a Legal Assistant, she found that she would have little human contact and would be buried in paperwork.  Realizing that she didn’t like sitting in an office, but rather wants to be out actively helping people, she decided to re-consider.

With a heart for humanitarianism, her current job with United Community Action Partnership is a great fit.  The day she came across their mission statement, she knew she had to apply.  She finds the role rewarding as she connects families with housing, food, medical services, electricity, and more.

Hamdi is actively involved in the community as well.  She is a member of ISAIAH, which is an interfaith political organization.  Hamdi recently attended a statewide conference where she was able to speak on and address Islamaphobia.    She loves talking about diversity.  She also attended Muslim Day on the Hill, is planning on joining the League of Women Voters and the Human Rights Commission of Willmar.  She appreciates when people are open armed and welcoming.  She is a person that is willing to include, engage, and say yes as a part of an organization she believes in.  She believes in taking the chances available to her and being willing to grow.

Hamdi’s life journey has taken her miles away from the refugee camp where she took her first breathes and let out her first cries.  Now, she is a young woman of deep faith and community enthusiasm who cries out with passion and eloquent speech for humanitarianism.

– Marn Steinwand
– Photo: West Central Tribune