Daisy Astorga Gonzalez: The first moment I stepped into Kitchen of Conflicts, I thought of my mother and grandmother. They could have easily been working there as immigrants; the joy they would have had to share our Mexican cuisine.
Larissa Weiss: ‘... the act of volunteering creates an empathy that creates conditions for peace.’ (Syd Boyd) When deciding to enlarge the community of the Kitchen of Conflicts through a volunteer application form, I immediately thought of this quote that was published by the United Nations Young Peacebuilders. To build community means to build freedom means to build peace.
Rozanna Bogacz: I entered Kitchen of Conflicts confident about the change that we could bring there, but the first try at the conversation without common language showed me the actual challenge they are meeting. After two weeks, I have become only more impressed and inspired.
Kitchen of Conflicts (KoC) is a social enterprise and foundation that employs immigrants and refugees. They cook different cuisines from their home countries; these countries tend to be countries of conflict. KoC allows them to preserve and share their cultures, connect with the Polish society, and build a community based on peace, love, acceptance. Moreover, KoC supports refugees and migrants in Warsaw to organize their life, including search for a flat and dealings with legal procedures. During our work with KoC, we witnessed the impact that giving people with the status of refugees and immigrants job opportunities contributes to their well-being and their social-economic stability.
Rozanna, Larissa, Daisy and Jarmiła
On June 22nd, we visited KoC and we met Jarmiła Rybicka, founder of the KoC and HIA Senior Fellow. Jarmiła was happy and excited to meet us; she welcomed us with open arms. We could not communicate with the staff members due to language barriers. However, they gladly welcomed us into their kitchen and shared their smiles with us. After discussing things with Jarmiła, we immediately realized two things: 1) KoC had potential volunteers but could not reach out to them and 2) KoC did not have a website. Therefore, we decided to create a website with an integrated online application format for volunteers to get involved.
Our journey from the tummy to the heart faced two main challenges in our search to help KoC. The first challenge we faced was the limited time we had to identify an effective solution and implement it at the same time in less than a week in a half. Another challenge we encountered was that we had to devote more time to research about the necessary tools to create a website and a volunteer application than to directly begin with the implementation phase. Our team managed to effectively solve these challenges by setting strict deadlines, dividing work based on our skills, and maintaining good communication with Jarmiła.
Although we were not able to communicate directly with the KoC staff members, we were able to connect with them by eating their delicious meals. Their cuisines served as a bridge to overcome the linguistic disconnection between us and built as a way to communicate through our love of food. We truly hope the website and volunteer form we created will also serve as a bridge to connect the Polish society with the amazing community of refugees and immigrants. This website will be launched in during August 2018! So stay tuned and keep following the facebook page of Kitchen of Conflicts! The opportunity to volunteer with KoC offers plenty of possible ways to learn more about this amazing foundation and the positivity of intercultural communication. Our piece of advice is on the one hand, to visit our website in August and apply to become a KoC-volunteer and on the other hand, to eat at Kitchen of Conflicts, eat there again, and tell everyone to eat there as well! Because from the tummy to heart it only takes one step.
By Rozanna Bogacz, Daisy Astorga Gomez and Larissa Weiss, participants of the 2018 Humanity in Action Warsaw Fellowship. Photo credit @ Trey Wallace.