When asked how can art be used to change the narrative about Syrian and Iraqi refugees, Osama Herkal responded with an idea he had. “When someone calls 911, they are not asked if they are Syrian or Iraqi, black or white. I want to take food to public servants to thank them for putting their lives at risk and as a token of appreciation for being able to restart a more stable life with my family here in the US.” The group chose a fire station to visit and break bread with.
Ladder 71 is one of the fire stations in the northeast closest to where most project collaborators lived. When the fire station was first approached about this dinner, they were a bit confused. Sometimes people will drop off food, but no one had ever offered to make food and break bread together. It took a month of dropping by the fire station each week to remind them and let different shifts know it would be happening.
On December 13, 2018, Osama cooked Syrian food and was joined by his family, Layla Al-Husseini, Abdul Karim Awad and his wife, Yaroub Al-Obaidi, Suzanne Seesman, and Nora Elmarzouky to have dinner with fire fighters at Ladder 71. Each person shared a little bit about themselves and their families and what it means for everyone to live in the northeast together. The kids got to learn about the fire station and sit in the driver seat of fire trucks. People did not hesitate to ask each other questions and make jokes with each other. It was important for the Syrian and Iraqi project collaborators to share who they are over food to both break stereotypes of Muslims as terrorists and also to share their experiences as to why they have to live in the US. Pictures from the event were displayed in the Sanctuary exhibition at Philadelphia City Hall.