Peace Catalyst works in cities and neighborhoods across the U.S. to promote understanding and peace between Christians and Muslims, and one of our most recent events was a Peace Feast in San Diego.
We gathered over forty adults (and two dozen children!) from a local church and the surrounding community for lunch at the Somali restaurant Café Royale in the Rolando neighborhood. Ahmed Ani, the owner, selected a menu for us that was traditional but not too “adventurous” for an American palate. One of the main entrees was a seasoned fish sambusa – a fried bread triangle containing a savory filling (similar to a samosa in other parts of the world). He explained how it is an integral dish in every Somali home in both daily meals as well as large celebrations. We were also treated to roasted marinated chicken, rice, salad, and a traditional spiced tea somewhat akin to a sweet, spiced chai. For us, enjoying these traditional dishes helped us feel more connected to our new friends and their culture.
As part of the event we were also honored to hear from our guest speakers Ahmed Sahid, founder of Somali Family Service, and Ahmed Ani, owner of Café Royale, about the Somali Muslim community here in San Diego. They explained their visions for the community. For Sahid, it is to provide much-needed support to families to help them thrive in their new home. For Ani, it is to provide a comfortable place where the community can gather and share a meal.
They also shared about the successes and hardships the Somali community experience. Ani and his family fled from civil war in Somalia, and they found themselves in Kenya at a refugee camp for five years. They were eventually relocated to San Diego when Ani was in 3rd grade, and he went on to be offered full ride scholarships to several universities and chose to attend Stanford University. After school Ani explored different business endeavors but felt a calling to come back home to San Diego and give back to the community. Ani’s story is inspiring, but even with his many successes, he still expressed the very raw and real hardships of being Somali and Muslim in America.
We’re so thankful for the relationships established through this Peace Feast. The Holy Spirit is stirring in this community, and we believe this will be just the beginning of many more things to come in San Diego!