In Warsaw, we got in touch with ‘Kuchnia Konfliktu’ (Check out their Facebook page). The organisation runs a food truck where they cook international dishes with refugees. They aim at empowering the refugees through the job and to also spread awareness for the situation of refugees. On our second stop in Warsaw, we met Paulina and interviewed her about their project. Here you can read the transcript of the interview:
Yannic: We are for the second time in Warsaw, and we didn’t come back just for the pierogi. With me is Paulina, from “Kuchnia Konfliktu” which means “Conflict Kitchen”. In their emerging restaurant they employ refugees and immigrants, who cook local dishes from different regions. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Paulina: So, I’m from Warsaw and I’m 26 years old. I studied Law and have always been interested in Human rights, even my master thesis was about Human Rights. When the refugee crisis started, we started to think what we can more about this issue in Poland. For Example, give refugees food and normal employment, because in Poland they face many difficulties with finding job. They’re paid less for the same work, and longer hours. They don’t sign any papers; therefore, they weren’t certain about tomorrow. On the other hand, we wanted to show people in Warsaw, the story of refugees and their journey. To show they’re normal people, because in Poland they face a lot of hate and we wanted to counter-act to that.
Y: : What inspired you to start the project?
P: Through American Scholarship, for young human rights’ activists. In one year you have to do your own project, and we thought of this.
Y: How did you finance the project?
P: We had to do first a crowdfunding, and we also did an art auction in Contemporary Art Museum in Warsaw. We collected different pieces from Polish Artists. Even the more known names. So within two months we collected the money.
Ia: How did you contact the refugees?
P: We found people through Refugees Welcome and we contacted NGO sites that we knew that work with refugees and migration, and we told them about our project.
Ia: How many people are working each day?
P: It depends on a day. Saturday and Friday are very busy nights, and Sundays can be much calmer. During the busy times, we have about four people in the truck. We also have two chefs of the kitchen and they’re polish. As we needed someone who is experienced with running a restaurant and they’re helping the workers to cook in a restaurant environment.
Some of our workers just don’t want work in the food truck as they’re not confident with their language, so they help us prepare the food in the kitchen.
Ia: Are there more women or men working in the kitchen?
P: I’d say it’s equal.
Ia: How much do they get paid per hour?
P: We are paying them 15 zloty, which is 5 zloty more than the minimal wage. As it’s important to pay them fairly.
Ia: Are there any programmes for the refugees to integrate with the polish society?
P : Yeah, we are organising watching movies and there are booklets about the country written by the refugees. There’s a lot of exchange of thoughts during the process of selling food, usually they will just come and talk with us.
Ia: Lastly, which improvements could be made in the future for Conflict Kitchen?
P: First of all, work organisation, but it’s a very complicated question because we will face little bit different problems from the moment we have a restaurant and where we will have a place to prepare actual cultural programmes. So, we can come back to this question in one year.
Y: We will come back then.
Ia: Thank you so much for the interview.