Iraqi guesthouse welcomes community to new environmental center in Roxborough

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- There's new labor of love standing tall at the Schuykill Center for Environmental Education in the city's Roxborough section known as the Al-Mudhif.

It's an Iraqi guesthouse recently built out of all-natural materials and the first of its kind in North America.

The construction goes back 5,000 years ago in Southern Iraq.

"Usually seniors, people of the tribe, this is their office to welcome people to solve problems," Iraqi artist Yaroub Al-Obaidi said.

Al-Obaidi is also an Iraqi refugee since 2016. Many of the volunteers were U.S. military who served in Iraq.

Since Memorial Day, people from all walks of life worked side by side to create this homemade guesthouse out of all-natural materials known as phragmites.

The invasive plant is abundant in the Delaware River watershed.

"I think it's a story about relationships, not just human relationships to plants but our relationships to each other," said lead artist Sarah Kavage.

The building process involved tying bundles of reeds into 20-foot-long columns. The welcome space is expected to be around indefinitely.

"I like to say now we will start with this because social activities are the most important part of this project," Al-Obaidi said.

People can come and enjoy the Al-mudhif Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Schuykill Center will be hosting events throughout the summer, but organizers encourage people to bring a coffee and meet a new friend.

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