Hanan Bawzer and Mohamed Ahmed were both working for the Afro American Development Association when they first heard about 4-H.
"One day, I heard some colleagues talking about 4-H," Hanan recalls. "And immediately, I was like, 'Let's try it!' because I've always enjoyed working with kids."
After that, Hanan and Mohamed worked together to create a 4-H program for middle school-aged youth in Moorhead.
"I started helping with the kids, and then also communicated with their families to explain what 4-H is, what we do and what we can help them with," Hanan says.
In the Moorhead area, there are many immigrant families who don't speak English– which can pose some challenges in a primarily English-speaking community.
"I saw a need in my community and realized I had the skills to help fill it," Hanan says. "For many kids, there's a big difference from when they started with us to right now. It's been so inspiring to see their improvements."
An immigrant herself, Hanan faced similar struggles growing up– especially with homework and making friends.
"My mom didn't speak English very well, so when my brothers and I came home from school and needed help with the homework, she couldn't help us," Hanan explains.
But that bump in the road didn't stop Hanan and her brothers from seeking help from a caring adult.
"Eventually, we asked our neighbor to help us," Hanan says. "Looking back on that experience is what made me want to help kids, especially those in similar situations."
In fact, her personal experience is what really inspired Hanan to get involved with 4-H.
"I want to share my story with these kids," Hanan says. "I want them to have a person in their life– outside of their family– that cares about them, understands the situation they're in and believes in them."
There's no doubt that Hanan and Mohamed are an incredible asset– not only to Minnesota 4-H but to the communities they serve.
"Hanan has the tenacity to keep a new 4-H club going. She works with families and youth to ensure everyone has a voice in the activities and priorities of the club. She understands the parents and relates well to them. Hanan joined the program while it was struggling to maintain, and she has turned her 4-H club into a solid group of youth with a sense of belonging. She has really taken the reins and built the program. Mohamed is a great support to the club as well. He gives rides, connects with the youth and adds a bit of fun and energy into everything he touches," says Mindy Grant, Extension educator in Clay County. "Their 4-H club allows youth members to explore their identities and contemplate their futures in a safe space."
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