Integrating refugees with host communities in Augusta and beyond by dining together and sharing food across cultures

Heba

At the age of 8, Heba immigrated with her Palestinian parents from the UAE to the US. Her past work with refugees, along with her family’s experiences as refugees living through generations of conflict, drew her to activism at a young age. Now, Heba leads her own nonprofit in Augusta, Maine, which is experiencing a wave of secondary refugee settlement and is in need of an innovative integration model to support the hundreds of migrants who have sought community and quality of life there.

“My community-through-food concept is rooted in the idea that when people from different cultural backgrounds meet, food is a common language. Sharing a meal is not only nourishment, but an act of inclusion.”

 

Heba is taking part in the 2018 Gather Fellowship as part of SE Forum’s partnership with Seeds of Peace.

Seeds of Peace GATHER

SDGs

 

World to Table

Nativism and anti-immigrant, anti-refugee rhetoric has risen in the United States. Last January, the KKK plastered flyers on Middle Eastern grocery stores in Augusta, Maine. Heba’s organization, World to Table, works with community members and city government to research local needs and develop a unified vision for refugee integration in Augusta. It organizes community pop-up dinners where 70 local guests from various backgrounds dine together in public spaces, local cooks from different cultures present their food, and guests mingle with people they do not know. World to Table also assists local service providers, like the fire department and hospital, in navigating cultural barriers, language barriers, and other challenges that arise when interacting with the local refugee population. Heba seeks to establish a permanent space for World to Table in downtown Augusta.