45 people came together from across Bristol to learn about recent events in Mogadishu, where over 300 people died in bombings last month. The evening was a powerful opportunity for Somalis to share a meal with others in the local community, and for people to hear how the situation has affected the Somali community here in Bristol.
An authentic and delicious meal was provided by 'The Somali Kitchen,' and our guest speakers, Councillor Hibaq Jama and Abdul Ahmed, Chair of Bristol Somali Forum, shared their insights before handing over the microphone to others to bring their stories to light.
Abdul Ahmed gave this reflection,
"What touched me deeply were members of other communities coming together in solidarity with my people in Mogadishu, Somalia. That was something unusual... normally you see people denouncing violence or terror attacks only when those horrendous attacks unfold in a country in the western world. I believe what Bridges for Communities have done is monumental and I will never forget it. I am extremely thankful to organisers and all the attendees."
Martin, a resident of Barton Hill was also very inspired by the event,
"It was heart-rendering to listen to the personal accounts of how the attack in Mogadishu has affected members of Bristol’s Somali community. At other times it was uplifting to hear the determination with which people spoke about their aspiration to realise a more peaceful future. Beyond the central theme of the evening, perhaps the greatest success I thought, was the dialogue the event opened up between members of different communities within Bristol. I met members of the Somali community with whom I am virtual neighbours but rarely have the chance to talk to. I also had the opportunity to talk with members of Bristol’s wider community, including a number of recently arrived refugees who also attended in solidarity. The warmth with which these hands of friendship were received was moving and for me, a clear of example of how communities can support each other and be stronger for it."
Other guests made these reflections about the evening:
"Absolutely amazing event. I want to continue to have opportunities to mix with other communities, having monthly sessions around coffee, dinner and conversation."
"It was a great evening where communities came together in solidarity and with great empathy and compassion and mindfulness for a hopeful future."
"It was a great feeling to see other Bristolians showing condolence and sympathy for the friends and neighbours who lost their friends and extended families in recent terror attacks in Mogadishu last month. There was a sense of unity, generosity and a great mood among attendees; let me thank everyone who was involved in such a great event."
"Very encouraging to see such enthusiasm for meeting and working together."
"A great evening. I learnt a lot and met some fantastic people."
"A great introduction to such a friendly, warm and welcoming community."