Abdullahi breaks bread with new neighbors

Abdullahi Ali
Born in Somalia.
Living in Maine.

In Scarborough, Maine, Catholic and Muslim families shared a “Building Bridges Dinner.” The dinner was hosted by
St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in late February 2016. For Abdullahi Ali, who is a native of Somalia and one of the organizers, breaking bread with neighbors is important for the community.

“I think one of the best ways to show support is sharing a meal because, as they say, sharing is caring.”

The idea for the dinner was proposed by Monsignor Michael Hencham more than a year ago after he heard a radio story about the anxiety and fear that many Americans have about Muslims resettling in the U.S. Members of both the Muslim and Catholic communities sharing responsibility for cooking the main courses in the parish kitchen. Others brought potluck-style dishes.

With more than 250 people in attendance, new and old acquaintances learned about each other’s lives and cultures – and saw their perceptions of each other change. People asked questions, told stories, and shared words of welcome. Although there were some communication barriers, those were overcome by smiles and the assistance of those who spoke multiple languages.

Two hours after dinner began, with plates cleared and even the dessert table bare, few people had left, lingering to enjoy Middle Eastern music and the company of new friends.

“I think one of the best ways to show support is sharing a meal because, as they say, sharing is caring,” says Abdullahi. “I think dinner shows us a sense of family. That’s what families do. They sit together, share a meal, talk about their issues, and that is what this is about.”

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