As a long time organizer with OneAmerica, Rahwa Habte, was a beloved part of our community. Many of us remember Rahwa behind a microphone pumping up the crowd fighting for immigration reform or welcoming us at Hidmo, a restaurant and music/art space she co-created as a place for liberation in Seattle.
She put so much care into each of her relationships and taught us about true community organizing and how to find joy in our pursuit for justice. Rahwa’s legacy, vision, passion, and dedication to justice will live on with our leaders, staff and the broader OneAmerica community. Rest in power dear Rahwa. Your light will shine on.
Below, OneAmerica staff and allies share special words in remembrance of Rahwa.
Our condolences go out to her family and all those who loved her. Please consider making a contribution to her fund.
“It was an honor to be one of Rahwa H’s mentees at OneAmerica. Rahwa’s guidance, support, and love was unmatched. I remember working with Rahwa on voter turnout. For hours together, we would door-knock and phone first time and low propensity voters- people that are registered but are not as likely to return their ballot. Rahwa was full of good energy, love, and laughter. I will always remember Rahwa as a brilliant organizer who helped bridge gaps between communities and government.” -Hamdi Mohamed
“Rahwa and I were cubicle mates when I first started organizing at OneAmerica. I will never forget her infectious warmth and the way she made me feel like I was a part of something at OneAmerica in the same way she did each time someone waked into Hidmo or she met one of our community leaders. Over the years, as she let me into her world and I had the privilege of being her friend I saw the web of relationships she had throughout the city, the East African community and in the music and arts scene. During these precious time I got to spend with Rahwa she taught me that organizing, while it is hard work, has to be filled with joy, music, creativity and love for one another. The last time I saw Rahwa was when we were both taking a break from our ‘work’ and ran into each other on Whidbey Island. We embraced and I had been following her journey online as she courageously shared her struggles. Even though I could tell she had been through a lot and part of her seemed distance, she still had the warm smile it was like we were right back at our cubicles again. Rahwa left such a mark on Seattle, on the social justice community on OneAmerica and on me. She will always be in my heart and as I work to create a space at OneAmerica where people are valued for their authentic selves and can experience joy in the face of hardship, I will center Rahwa’s legacy and everything she taught me.” – Roxana Norouzi, OneAmerica Deputy Director
“Rahwa’s was one of my first teachers in the movement for social justice. I met her when I was 15 years old when she was an organizer at OneAmerica. As a youth, Rahwa helped me realize that the things our community continues to fight for are within reach, that our struggle is not in vain, and that we will win. She taught me that to be in the fight does not mean to be in sadness and that there is an abundance of radical joy to be had-something I as an angry teen at the time desperately needed. Her love for life has forever left a lasting impression in my heart.” -Carlos Martinez, OneAmerica Staff
“To me Rahwa is a reminder that we can all do better. I was inspired by her open-book approach to life. None was more moving than her decision to share publicly her struggle with addiction. Too many times in life we are made to feel like our personal struggles are unique, when in fact those closest to us might be dealing with something similar. Rahwa, with her incredible bravery, was vulnerable and made many of us feel seen and less lonely.” – Pedro Gomez
“The beauty of the way Rahwa moved in the world is that she followed her integrity, her passion for justice and her love of community in everything she did. Whether it was creating a home for Seattle’s hip hop community through Hidmo or advocating for immigrant rights, Rahwa put her values front and center, ensuring that no one was left behind. There was no one like her.” -Naomi Ishisaka