Online-Shopping vs Instore-Shopping? – The Sustainability Check

Most of us might think: buying in-store must be more environmentally friendly than shopping online. We’re seeing more and more delivery workers out in public everyday, which is provoking the thought – ‘this just can’t be good’.

You’d be mistaken to think there is an easy explanation as to how our choices and behaviours are impacting our environment.
We should keep in mind that not only are our purchases in local stores not climate-neutral but they are also expanding our own personal ecological footprint. Each store has to be provided with energy for heating, cooling and lighting along with running the operations at warehouses and logistic centres along the value chain. The CO2-balance also depends on our means of transportation to and from these stores – ideally we cycle or go by foot but in many cases we are adding to the problem by guzzling fuel in our vehicles for convenience. The German Federal Environment Agency points out that, according to the current state of knowledge, the difference between online and offline trade, when viewed in isolation is “tending to be unclear to weak”. The comparison between the two is difficult to make due to many individual factors. Below you can see the CO2 balance of a shoe purchase in comparison.

Carbon balance of a shoe purchase in comparison

 Gram Carbon Dioxide, Source: SZ-Grafik with data from Öko-Institut
Let’s take a look at the seven things we can do as a retailer and as consumers in order to make shopping online as sustainable as possible:

1. Environmentally friendly packaging

When shopping online, not only are the purchased products packaged, they are also being delivered in one-use boxes. This overpacking produces more and more garbage. A reusable or deposit system could provide a remedy here. Until the first ideas are ready for the market, we at Conflictfood try to reuse existing packaging in order to cut our waste. We are using plastic residue-free filling-material and opt for packaging as small as possible. You can do the same thing: Try to reuse the boxes for your next shipment!

2. Bundle orders

Make lists of things you don’t need right away. By doing so, you might be able to combine several orders into one and save on shipping costs, CO2 and packaging material. Talk to your friends, colleagues and neighbours about organizing joint orders. By the way: extra shipping costs, which correspond to the actual effort, lead to the fact that purchases are made as collectively as possible. For this reason, we have decided to include the shipping costs separately and not to “swallow” in the product price.

3. Directly from the provider

Try to avoid ordering from large online marketplaces like Amazon & Co but rather order directly from the provider. Many local shops and boutiques have their own online stores, giving them a better chance of surviving.

4. Climate neutral shipping

When choosing a dealer, pay attention to criteria such as green shipping and transparent supply chains. By the way, your Conflictfood package will be delivered to you in a climate-neutral manner, and greenhouse gases generated during transportation will be offset by climate projects.

5. Cool isn’t always cool

Do not order goods that need to be cooled, but try to buy them in the supermarket on site. The required cooling packs and insulating materials lead to even more packaging buildup.

6. Not at home?

Choose a delivery address where you or someone you trust can actually receive the package. If that doesn’t work, you can also have it delivered to a Packstation or directly to your office – our experience shows that generally, these packages are delivered on the first go.
Tip: You can use the package announcement and DHL shipment tracking to choose a desired location or neighbor until 00:00 a.m. before the day of the planned delivery and also postpone the delivery day by up to 6 days.

7. Do I really need it?

The carbon cost of online-shopping also depends on whether there is a return or not. The right to return is important, but in Germany almost every sixth parcel is being returned. In 2018 that was 280 million parcels returned countrywide! This absurdly high number represents an additional burden for people and the environment. So make sure you choose your orders wisely. Collect as much information as possible before buying, get advice via email if necessary and only buy when you are satisfied with the product. This is exactly what Conflictfood customers are already doing, the return rate is 0.1 percent!So if you want to do your part and reduce your personal impact on the environment – take your time to make considered decisions on who you’re purchasing from, their stance on sustainability and think twice before hitting the pay now button.  Last but not least, a big thank you to all parcel deliveries, warehouse employees and all those who make our deliveries possible – you are great!

Check out our sustainable online shop

The Ancient Art of Healing – Tea in Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurveda is a traditional Indian healing art and is considered the oldest and constantly practiced medical system in the world. As a scripted science, Ayurveda can be traced back to the middle of the 2nd century BC. The oral tradition of healing on the other hand is already over 5000 years old. According to a legend, Brahma, the creator of the Hindu Trinity, was the one who brought the medical knowledge of Ayurveda to the people, who have been preserving and developing it ever since.

to stay balanced: the three principles of life in ayurveda

Translated from Sanskrit, Ayurveda means “knowledge of life”, and the name speaks for itself: the knowledge of the three vital energies – or doshas – is the basis of Ayurvedic medicine and crucial for the production of physical and mental balance.

Doshas can be understood as energies in the body and all three doshas can be found in every person. Often one of these energies is particularly pronounced. Only if the three vital energies Vata (the principle of movement), Pitta (the fire and metabolic principle) and Kapha (the structural principle) are in balance, the Ayurvedic teachings, the human remains healthy. Diseases however are the result of an individual imbalance of these three doshas.

Behavioral changes, internal and external therapies, and above all, proper nutrition, can correct this imbalance, restore health, and maintain it permanently. Through constant development with the help of the findings of the latest medical research and thanks to the wealth of experience Ayurveda is still one of the most important life and healing programs. Originally originating from South India, Ayurveda has long been able to take over the Western world, which is certainly not least the holistic orientation of the art of healing: the human being as an individual, who is influenced in his physiology of different predispositions and factors, is the focus of teaching.

Ayurvedic Tea

Tea as a hot beverage generally plays an important role in Ayurveda, as many people eat too cold. This is to understand quite literally: Many of the foods we eat come straight out of the refrigerator and lead to a decrease of the hot fire element that controls the processes in our body. Hot and warm drinks can reverse this imbalance. Depending on the composition, teas can have very different effects. A distinction must be made between regular tea and ayurvedic tea.

The basis of the classic tea are always tea leaves. Differences between the common varieties such as green and black tea result from different fermentation levels. From the Ayurvedic point of view, primarily unfermented or slightly fermented teas should be preferred, as fermented foods can be a bit irritating according to Ayurveda and can lead to inflammation. Ayurvedic tea, on the other hand, is produced by brewing herbs, flowers and spices and usually contains little to no caffeine or tein. Ayurvedic tea consists of carefully matched herbs and spices and depending on the Dosha type, the recommended tea blends differ significantly from each other. For Vata types warm and spicy but also sweet spices like cloves or cinnamon are recommended, the Pitta type should stick to fresh and cooling ingredients such as mint. For Kapha types, however, stimulating ingredients such as ginger are suggested. Green tea – such as the Organic Green Tea ‘Silver Shan’ – is less fermented, and perfect as a basis for ayurvedic tea mixtures.

Many types of tea that one finds in the supermarket nowadays bear the words “Ayurvedic”, but you should pay close attention here: Often, the compositions of these teas (the tea blend) – from an ayurvedic point of view – has no healing power, and the term ‘ayurvedic’ is merely used for an advertising purposes. For ayurvedic tea, the respective ingredients should be adapted to their properties, so that you achieve the desired effect for you. An interesting fact to keep in mind is that the second infusion of green tea leaves are an optimal basis for an ayurvedic tea mix because the amount of caffeine is reduced.

Here you find more about the topic!

Here you find our wonderful teas

Fotoausstellung – Drei Blicke: Afghanistan

Drei Blicke: Afghanistan

Die drei Fotograf*innen Rada Akbar, Christina Feldt und Gernot Würtenberger werfen in ihren Arbeiten einen Blick auf die tiefe Verletztheit und die aufstrebende Hoffnung Afghanistans.

29. Mai- 27. Juni 2019, Mi.-Fr. 14:00-20:00 Uhr
Der Eintritt ist frei. Wir freuen uns auf Deinen Besuch.

Rada Akbar

Rada Akbar ist freiberufliche Fotografin, sie lebt und arbeitet in Kabul. Schon immer nutze sie die Kunst als Medium um sich selbst auszudrücken und die Geschehnisse um sie herum zu erklären. Die Karriere der visuellen Kunst Rada Akbars begann als malende Künstlerin. Ihre Gemälde hingen in diversen Ausstellungen national und international. Später tauschte sie Pinsel und Palette ein gegen die Fotokamera ein. Dabei entdeckte sie ihre Leidenschaft, das Alltagsleben der Menschen in Afghanistan festzuhalten und zu dokumentieren. Von ihrer Kunst sagt Rada selbst, sie fotografiere keine Objekte, sondern das Gefühl, dass sie ihr vermitteln. 2015 gewann sie den UNICEF Fotowettbewerb „Foto des Jahres“. Teile dieser prämierten Fotostrecke hat die Künstlerin für die Ausstellung “Drei Blicke: Afghanistan” als Leihgabe zur Verfügung gestellt.

Bild: Rada AkbarBild: Rada AkbarBild: Rada Akbar

Christina Feldt

Christina Feldt ist freiberufliche Fotografin und lebt in Berlin. Sie absolvierte ihr Studium in  International Business, war aber seit ihrer Jugend von der Fotografie fasziniert. In Barcelona belegte Christina einen Fotojournalismus Kurs an der Schule RUIDO Photo, es folgten weltweite Foto Expeditionen mit renommierten Fotografen. Mittlerweile hat Christina mehr als 40 Länder weltweit mit ihrer Kamera bereist. Ihre großen Leidenschaften sind Fotoreportagen und Dokumentationen aus der ganzen Welt, insbesondere die Schicksale und Geschichten von Menschen interessieren sie sehr. Christina hat für zahlreiche Medien und internationale Organisationen – wie die Vereinten Nationen, Save the Children, Care, Handicap International, etc. – bewegende Themen in Afrika, Asien und auch Afghanistan fotografiert. 2014 reiste sie für 2 Wochen nach Afghanistan, wo sie im Auftrag der Vereinten Nationen fotografierte. Sie blickt auf ein wunderschönes Land mit bewegenden Momenten und besonderen Menschen zurück.

Bild: Christina FeldtBild: Christina FeldtBild: Christina Feldt

Gernot Würtenberger

Gernot Würtenberger hat in Wien und Berlin viele Jahre als Architekt gearbeitet. 2015 gründete er das Sozialunternehmen Conflictfood mit der Idee, Handelsbeziehungen zu Bauern in Konfliktregionen aufzubauen. Die Kamera im Gepäck begleitete ihn zu Flüchtlingslagern in Palästina, Rohingya-Ghettos in Myanmar und zu Opiumfelder in Afghanistan.
An der Fotografie begeistert ihn der eine und unwiederbringliche Moment, das Schmunzeln im Gesicht oder die Hoffnung in den Augen. Diese Begeisterung zeigt sich in seinen Bildern.

Bild: Gernot WürtenbergerBild: Gernot WürtenbergerBild: Gernot WürtenbergerVeranstaltet wird die Ausstellung von Cultivating Peace e.V., Gastgeber sind Conflictfood und selo – The Next Generation Coffee
Wir freuen uns auf Deinen Besuch!

Christmas has a world capital: BETHLEHEM

Nowadays, it is hard to imagine a place where within only 150 meters church bells are ringing and a muezzin is calling for the prayer from a minaret. In the centre of Bethlehem located at the Manger Place you will find both coming from the Christian Church of Nativity and the Omar mosque. Here Muslims and Christians live together – peacefully!

The Manger place in Bethlehem. For an 360°-experience, click on the image!

During our journey through Palestine Conflictfood also explored the city of Bethlehem for one week. The traditional cityscape of Bethlehem has been influenced by all those different dynasties that used to rule this place. When you are strolling through the century-old alleys you will encounter impressive churches, venerable monasteries and mosques. Arabic, Byzantine, Turkish and Roman influences build a unique foundation for a multi-cultural hub.

beautiful Bethlehem

In 2012 the UNESCO declared the Church of Nativity and the ancient pilgrim’s path leading to Bethlehem a world heritage. And despite of the ongoing Middle East conflict millions of people still visit this spiritual place.

At Christmas time, the Church of Nativity is illuminated with an especially festive atmosphere. Build around 326 BC at the alleged place of birth of Jesus, the building marks the centre of Christian belief at Christmas season. Almost everyone knows the story of Maria and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem and her giving birth to their son, the leading figure of Christianity.

Inside the vaulted cellars of the Church of Nativity. For an 360°-experience, click on the image!

Friendship and common grounds

Located in the Palestinian mountains this city is not only a pilgrim’s place for Christians, but also attracts people from other religions – in Jewish narratives it is the birth place of the legendary King David and prophet Muhammad stopped here for a prayer while travelling to Jerusalem.Since 1995 Bethlehem is part of the Palestinian Autonomous Territories. Today around 30.000 people are living in city. According to a survey of the Palestinian Centre for Research and Cultural Dialogue, 90 % of the Christian population indicated that they have Muslim friends and 73 % believe that the Palestinian Authority respects the Christian heritage of the city.

An Arabic Bible

Bethlehem’s colourful alleys

Jesus of Nazareth – the son of Maria (Īsā ibn Maryam) – plays an important role in Islam, he is one of the major prophets. That is why Muslims honour his birthplace, too. Maybe it is this unifying religious spirit that saved the Nativity Church from being destroyed over the past centuries.

Exactly, this reflection and communication of shared religious beliefs and values is able to bring around and safe peace. With this in mind, Conflictfood wishes you peaceful holidays, or like the people from Bethlehem would say:‘a glorious birth feast’, Eid Milad Majid!

Read more about Palestine

#17Ziele

#17Goals– Let us join forces and act together!

Armed conflicts, natural disasters, environmental pollution, global inequalities and poverty are the global challenges of our age. All these problems can no longer be swept under the carpet.

This is why the United Nations have designed an ambitious plan of action for the next 15 years.

On September 25, 2015, the so-called Agenda 2030 was implemented during the world summit of the United Nations in New York. The heads of government from 193 member states endorsed 17 precisely-defined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are meant to be put in practice by the international community by 2030. The SDGs are a multidimensional approach, they respect the ecological limitations of our planet and their demands are to be realized in the global South, as well as the global North. As the titel „Transformations of our World“ already suggests, the Agenda wants to initiate extensive and universal changes.

Therefor everybody agrees that the 17 goals can not be realized by the governments themselves.

All in all, there is still a lot to do for Germany to achieve the SDGs. For the implementation of the Agenda 2030 a universal transformation in all areas of life is necessary. Furthermore, a new culture of sustainability is required.

 

Bundesregierung (2016): Bericht der Bundesregierung zum High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2016. BerlinIt is also clear that a holistic approach is necessary to guaranty crucial steps towards sustainable development. The SDGs integrate all 3 fields of sustainability: the environment, the social life and the economy.

 

We from Conflictfood support this Agenda wholeheartedly and we want to contribute with our activities to the realization of the goals. For these efforts we were awarded with the iF Social Impact Prize.

 

Especially the following SDGs play an important role in our everyday work routine:

#SDG 1: No Poverty

Fair and appropriate payment are very important to us. That´s why we support SDG #1.

Primary objective of the Agenda is the eradication of poverty in all its various dimensions.

Especially the fight against „Extreme Poverty“, being the biggest of all global challenges, takes the center stage, because it is the indispensable requirement for all other spheres of sustainable development.

#SDG 2: No Hunger

Due to our intensive partnerships with our agricultural cooperatives, we were able to learn how extremely important the effect from nutrition on our future development is.

Hunger is not only the biggest health risk, but also contributes to flight and displacement, it fosters lack of perspective and violence. The grotesque thing about it is that worldwide enough food is being produced to provide for every human being.

#SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Our consumption is always political. SDG #12 addresses mainly the industrial countries.

In the course of sustainable development, it is absolutely necessary that we respect the ecological limits of our planet. Our consumption habits and production techniques have to change.

#SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

 

 

„Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.

(Baruch de Spinoza)

 

With this message SDG#16 goes beyond the usual 3 dimensions of sustainability (Social issues, Economy and Environment) and works with the aspects of non-violence and rule of law. In our partnering countries, we from Conflictfood want to achieve successes in exactly these areas.For the international community, these 17 goals are a real milestone towards sustainable development. For us as a small social Start-up they serve as a guideline to not lose the big picture on our path.

More news here

iF Social Impact Prize!

Yippie –  Conflictfood wins the iF Social Impact Prize 2018!

You have a new message:

“Congratulations –  14 jury members from Taiwan, China, Brazil, Korea, Spain, The Netherlands and Germany have decided to support your project “Conflictfood” to help you continue the good work!“A loudly shouted “yippie”, big surprise: We are proud to be this year’s winner of the iF SOCIAL IMPACT PRIZE 2018.

 

Conflictfood shares the 50.000 Euro prize money with four more social projects from all over the world: Rescue Foundation from Mumbai/India, Garbage Clinic Insurance from Malang/ Indonesia, X-runner from Küsnacht in Switzerland and the project Girls Not Wives from Kaduna in Nigeria. Congrats to all of you!The iF Industrie Forum Design  is known for its prestigious iF DESIGN AWARD since 1954. In addition to promoting outstanding design, iF is now also committed to supporting social projects across the world – especially in cases where design plays an important role.

Since 2017 the IMPACT PRIZE awards impressive projects and initiatives, influencing people’s life positively. A large number of social projects of companies, design studios, NGOs, foundations and both public and private organizations competed against each other.

Criteria for being awarded is, that every project submitted, needs to pursue at least one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs being an approach, which was determined by the United Nations in 2015, to face global challenges together as an international community. 17 sustainable development goal were declared, which are supposed to be achieved by 2030. Eventhough they were only ratified by government representatives, but private economy plays an important role in the implementation.Conflictfood especially faces and fights problems, regarding SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production.

Consumption is always political and we point that out. With our products you can consume consciously, ethically and do good at the same time. Unlike the big players in the food sector, that dictate prices, accept child labor, privatize water, destroy the environment and local market structures, Conflictfood follows a holistic approach.

If you want to learn more about SDG 12 and what you can do to contribute, have a look on this: https://conflictfood.com/en/shop/

 

We are truly delighted about this award, which sponsors us in order to continue and develop our projects.

What will we do with the prize money? – Well, we will continue where we stopped! Because there is so much more to do!

We are already planning our next trip to Afghanistan.

We are about to pack our bags and are very happy that we have a secure financing for our trip. This allows us to meet more farmers in Afghanistan and look for new partners we can cooperate with. Undoubtedly, there will be new culinary specials in our shop soon.

What a great honor to win the iF SOCIAL IMPACT PRIZE 2018! We are very thankful and happy that iF is joining Conflictfood’s journey – literally: the support we have received helps us to make this year’ s trip to farmers in Afghanistan. Through fair and direct trade we can open up new markets to them and tackle poverty at the root. Thank you, iF!

Conflictfood’s bestsellers

Mehr Nachrichten lesen

Myanmar – wohin geht’s?

Der Weg in Richtung Demokratie ist für Myanmar ein steiniger. Wir waren letztes Jahr vor Ort, haben Land und Leute kennengelernt und Handelsbeziehungen mit Bauern aus dem umkämpften Norden des Landes aufgebaut. Ihre Tees gibt es übrigens im Conflictfood Onlineshop zu kaufen.

Wie steht es aktuell um das faszinierende Land? Welche Rolle spielen Wirtschaft und Handel, Politik und Menschenrechte? Wir wollen das Bild des Landes schärfen und die Frage klären, in welche Richtungen sich Myanmar entwickeln kann.

Um diese Aspekte auszuloten organisieren wir gemeinsam mit dem Verein Cultivating Peace e.V. das Symposium:

„Myanmar – wohin geht’s ?“
12.02.2018, 16:00 bis 20:00 Uhr
Unicorn.Berlin, Brunnenstraße 64, 13355 BerlinAls RednerInnen sind geladen:

Dr. Hans-Bernd Zöllner | Freiberuflicher Südostasienwissenschaftler, Research Fellow des Numata Zentrums für Buddhismuskunde, Hamburg

Richard Roewer | Doktorand Leibniz Institut für Globale u. Regionale Studien & DPhil Candidate, University of Oxford

Jella Fink | Ethnologin, TU Dortmund & Myanmar-Institut e.V., Berlin

Simon Welte | Mitgründer & Geschäftsführer Alsharq Reise & Consultant in der EZ, Berlin

Ulla Kroeber | Gründerin Hla Day, Yangon

Die Moderation übernimmt Sven Hansen, Asien-Redakteur der taz. die tageszeitung, Berlin.Nach den Impulsvorträgen laden wir zu einer Podiumsdiskussion ein, in der wir tiefere Einblicke in die Entwicklung des faszinierenden Landes gewinnen können. Begleitet wird das Symposium von Kurzfilmen der Yangon Film School und der Fotoausstellung Faces of Myanmar von Conflictfood.

Auch das Buffet wird ausgerichtet von Conflictfood, mit Zutaten aus direktem und fairem Handel mit Kleinbauern aus Konfliktregionen. Mit dabei sind unter anderem kulinarische Köstlichkeiten aus Myanmar.Die Veranstaltung ist öffentlich, der Eintritt ist frei, die Tickets sind allerdings limitiert.

Sichere dir rechtzeitig dein Ticket: 

The tragedy of the Rohingya, Interview

Ethnic tensions have shaped the multi-ethnic state of Myanmar. In particular, the borderline racist disdain towards a specific group seems very worrying: it is the minority of the Rohingya that prays and looks differently than the Buddhist majority.

About 1.2 million Rohingya live either interned behind barbed wire in camps or are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. The United Nations call the Rohingya the worst affected of the persecuted ethnic minorities. A sad record that has its origin in the withdrawal of citizenship from the Rohingya in 1982, further escalated by a mass exodus of Rohingya seeking refuge by boat in 2015, and today marked by the killing of thousands while hundreds of thousands are fleeing.

The Burmese army is accused of murder, pillage and mass rape. In addition, some radical Buddhist monks have turned their religion into an aggressive and ultra-nationalist ideology. Their association “Ma Ba Tha” supports the hatred towards the Rohingya and does not shy away from the use of violence

About 1.2 million Rohingya live either interned behind barbed wire in camps or are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. 

Let’s have a talk with…

Kyaw Soe Aung is himself a Rohingya and represents the positions of his ethnicity in the Democratic and Human Rights Party. We met him for an interview in Yangon.

Mister Kyaw, how is the situation for you in Myanmar?

As Rohingya, we live a stateless existence and are not accepted in our home country. We neither get an ID card nor a passport. We are not allowed to have more than two children due to a birth regulation. We are not allowed to have our Muslim birth names. When we want to marry we have to ask the state of Myanmar for permission. Due to this rule, we often need to wait years before we can be lawfully married. Additionally, we are not allowed to leave the country legally. However, when we succeed leaving the country, we are not permitted to enter the country of Myanmar once again.

Most Rohingya live in the state of Rakhine. In the capital city of Sittwe living feels like an open-air prison. We live in a ghetto that we are not allowed to leave. Other Rohingya live in IDP camps (IDP stands for internally displaced people).

How is life in these camps?

The situation is catastrophic! People do not have access to drinking water and access to foodstuff is scant. There are not enough tents, blankets and barely any sanitary stations. We don’t have schools, doctors, anything. Lots of children suffer from intestinal or dermal infectious diseases. The child mortality rate is high, the number of pregnant woman dying is double than in the rest of Myanmar. Many NGO’s work permission have been withdrawn. Our people are not safe.

Are the Rohingya safe in neighbouring countries?

Tens of thousands of us are fleeing regularly by boat to Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia. First, you need to bribe the coast police, to pay the tugs and survive a long and dangerous journey on an overcrowded fishing boat. In Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, they are sold as work slaves and partly as sex slaves. As stateless people we are endangered to be victims of human trafficking because we are nowhere officially registered as missing.

Kyaw Soe Aung is himself a Rohingya and represents the positions of his ethnicity in the Democratic and Human Rights Party.

How does the government of Myanmar justify the withdrawal of citizenship?

In 1982, the government decided that the ethnicities that have not lived in Myanmar before 1824 should not be citizens of Myanmar. Despite of historic evidence that Rohingya are part of Myanmar for centuries, our citizenship was cancelled. There are various degrees of citizenship and some of them are theoretically accessible for us. In practice, we are hindered due to harassing regulations and in reality this form of citizenship not accessible. As a result, we are stateless. We cannot do anything against the arbitrary treatment by police, military and authorities.

What do you wish for the future?

I wish for peace between the religions and the peoples in Myanmar. Still, the situation has escalated to a degree that is almost unsalvageable without the pressure of the international community. We need to change the legal situation of the Rohingya and other minorities. The world needs to put pressure on the government of Myanmar. We have put great hopes in Aung San Suu Kyi but she is too weak to counter the military and the radical groups of Buddhists in the country. An UN mission by blue helmets would be the first step to ensure a secure future for our people. And NGOs must be given full access to the refugee camps, so the humanitarian catastrophe will finally come to an end.

Thank you.

Read more about Myanmar

Fasting, Religion & Health

Artwork by Daniel Spoerri

An excursion into the world of fasting

Detox and body cleansing are concepts which you can read about all over the place these days. Fasting it seems, is coming more in fashion especially in the West. Even the alleviation of chronic diseases is said to be part of fastings positive energy. Many doctors and alternative practitioners are therefore very positive towards therapeutic fasting. To cleanse your body and to get rid of old eating habits is however not a new concept. Fasting is a very old ritual practiced by many religions throughout the world and an alternative method of therapy at the same time. But what does fasting has to do with the big religions of the world? And how is fasting seen from a medical viewpoint? Does it have consequences on the psyche? A little excursion into the world of fasting should bring some clarity into this.

 

Fasting in the various religions

Fasting is indeed an integral part of most religions. Through fasting the believer is meant to concentrate more on his faith again and through this get closer to god. All big founders of religion went through a phase of abdiction. Mohammed has been fasting before the Koran was revealed to him, Moses climbed up mount Sinai and fasted for 40 days before he received the word of God and Jesus retreated into the desert for 40 days to fast before his official appearance in public. In all major religions there are times of fasting up until today .

Christianity

For the Christians the periods of fasting or Passiontide lasts from Ash Wednesday until Good Friday. During those 40 days the person is meant to reflect upon himself through abstinence, do penance and to find the connection to God. During fasting Christians reflect mainly upon their believe and their way of living. They deliberate about what they could do better in the future and how they could help others who are worse off than themselves. Today there aren’t any firm rules anymore or they differ quite a bit from region to region. Everyone can decide for himself if or how he wants to go about the fasting period. For many years now e.g. the Evangelical Church is calling up to take part in their initiative “ 7 weeks without”. No matter if one decides to go seven weeks without meat, alcohol, nicotine, sweets or TV, the people are encouraged to use the time to reflect upon their way of living and to find new perspectives.

Gernot, one of the co-founders of Conflictfood fasted for 7 weeks. We asked him about his experience:

How did you fast?
The plan was to quit alcohol and sugar.
Did you succeed?
To quit alcohol was easy for me. In regards to the sugar I was very strict initially. I even avoided hidden sugars in yoghurts and things like that. Unfortunately I gave up after just a few days and sugar was quickly on my list of foods.
Why did you fast?
In my childhood it was common before Eastern to quit meat and alcohol. But I wanted to try and see if I could stick to a goal which I decided for myself and to work towards it. This year I only succeeded in parts but I will try it again for sure.

Islam

In Islam fasting is a divine precept and one of the five pillars of the religion. Fasting takes place during Ramadan, the ninth month of the islamic lunar year. Here fasting has the character of a penance. The soul is meant to be chastened and purified as well as the connection to God and the people around you should be consolidated. 30 days Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke during the time between sunrise and sunset. Also intercourse is not permitted. The fast-breaking in the evenings takes place in larger groups so that Ramadan has a strong character of bringing families together and fostering community ties. Also hospitality and generous donations to the poor are an important part of Ramadan. These 30 days also serve as a time for reflection: you reflect upon the past 11 months, as well as having a try at living with more mindfulness.

Salem, the co-founder of Conflictfood is fasting since many years during the month of Ramadan. We asked him about it:

How do you fast?
I fast every year for 30 days. From sunrise to sunset I don’t eat or drink.
When exactly is Ramadan?
Because the islamic calendar orientates itself to the moon, the month of Ramadan moves through all seasons. Since a few years it’s a particular challenge because the summer days are so long.
Why do you do that?
To not eat and drink are only the external characteristics of fasting. Ramadan has a far deeper, spiritual dimension to it. Self- control and the abdication of consumerism are also very fundamental aspects of it. Material things take a back seat. Not only is it a part of my believes it also strengthens my character and my willpower and benefits my body and soul.

Artwork by Daniel Spoerri

Buddhism

Looking at Buddhism, Buddha was teaching somewhat of a middle path. Self-chastisement he refused. Neither overindulgence nor hunger are therefore recommendable. To eat less however helps in meditation and to reach inner peace and enlightenment. Because of that buddhist monks and nuns quit eating altogether every day after 12 o’clock lunch time. Besides that there are other monthly days of fasting.

 

Judaism

In Judaism Jom Kippur is the biggest day of fasting and reconciliation. On that day it is neither permitted to eat, drink or smoke. You also don’t wash, have intercourse or go to work. All sins committed prior to that date should be atoned on this day. Besides that there are another five general days of fasting on which Jews are commemorating tragic events in Jewish history. On those days it is also not permitted to eat or drink.

 

Fasting as a healing method

Looking at fasting from a medical point of view you will find many studies and guide books which attribute fasting a positive impact on the entire human body. Therapeutic fasting influence significantly the processes in our body. One of the most important impacts is the strengthening of our immune system. Whereas during our normal eating habits our immune system is deeply involved in digestive processes, during fasting it can concentrate on eradicating disease causing intruders. Therapeutic fasting is therefore also called as your own, inner doctor. Due to this it is also perfectly healthy if you don’t feel like eating when you are sick. Another nice side effect of fasting is the sensitisation of your taste buds. Even the slightest smell of certain unhealthy foods can in some cases already repulse you during the fasting period.

Purification of the mind

On top of all of this, therapeutic fasting does also have a not to be underestimated impact on our psyche. After the first, sometimes difficult days of fasting are over, an enormous energy momentum is kicking in. That not only increases the mental and physical performance it also shoots up the good mood. Many times fasting as a healing method allows us to be more aware of ourselves and to step back from everyday stress. In that way long held thinking barriers can be resolved or entirely new ideas pop up in one’s head. Even though these positive effects are proven by many studies you shouldn’t just start fasting without any prior arrangements. Healthy people can in general fast at home without any problems but there are some rules you should consider beforehand, whilst you are fasting and afterwards.

If you are curious now and want to convince yourself of the healing powers of fasting, what are you waiting for? Go and inform yourself through some reliable sources and try it out yourself.Artwork by Daniel Spoerri

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“A place that should not exist”

Every thirty minutes „Le Shuttle“ takes passengers from Calais in France to Dover, a city in the United Kingdom, just right through the Eurotunnel. The trip costs about 50 euros – for anyone owning the right coloured passport.This desired destination, only 50 kilometres away, stays a long lasting dream for more than 10.000 men, women and children. For months, people have gathered at the outskirts of Calais on an industrial site, living in tents or containers under unbearable conditions.

Up until two weeks ago, Ronja Keifer lived in this so-called „Jungle“ for several months as one of numerous volunteers. At this very moment, the „Jungle“ is being vacated. On this occasion, Conflictfood met Ronja for an interview in Berlin.

Why did you decide to volunteer at Calais?

Last summer was the first time that I saw pictures of the camp in the media. I started to feel a certain anxiety. When I found that L’auberge des migrants is desperately looking for volunteers, my decision was made. I just drove there.

What was your first impression when you arrived?

The camp exists since April 2015. When I arrived, 3.000 refugees lived in improvised housings. A lot of people contributed in-kind and clothing donations, but it was all chaotic and not organized at all. Soon, village-like structures developed: improvised mosques, churches, schools, meeting points for women, mobile charging stations and that sort of things. Sufficient supply of toilets was missing. Together with the refugees and the volunteers, in-kind donations were sorted and distributed within the community. Together with Refugee Community Kitchen, I was taking on responsibility for the daily supply of warm meals.

How did your daily routine look like at the Refugee Community Kitchen?

I started working in the kitchen at 8 o’clock in the morning. We cleaned and cooked 120 kilograms of rice. Moreover, depending on the available resources, we prepared vegetables and pulses to cook a warm meal and washed and prepared salad. We passed out about 2500 meals from Monday to Sunday, everyday.

What role did the meals play for those living in the camp?

An important one! In the first place, the food obviously satisfied people’s hunger, but the meals went beyond meeting needs. Every single one had his own sense of taste and a different relationship to food. I realized that for most people it was more important how the food was ate, for instance in large company. Where on the other hand, what people ate, had minor importance. Anyhow, there are a lot of differences, for example on how spicy the food should be. But I experienced the meals as something peaceful and as something connecting people. People of all kinds of nationalities would sit together at one table. Eritreans next to Ethiopians, Christians side by side with Muslims. Later on, when there were 10.000 people living in the camp, the food became more of a necessity and there was a greater oppressiveness while handing out the meals.

How did the people feel living in the camp?

Spending that much time in the camp was exhausting for everyone. People arriving were full of hope, which you could see disappear little by little, day by day. It had an impact on anyone’s mental state. Fights appeared frequently. For a long time there was no police at the camp, only a “community leader” system, usually organized by those who spoke English well. But due to the high fluctuation, there was no consistence. People kept coming and leaving.

What did the governmental aid look like?

The governmental aid was by far not enough. Beside sanitary facilities, water points and waste disposal, there was a supply of food calculated for 2000 portions. Every once in a while containers were added, in which about 2000 people lived in. But generally speaking, the state of emergency was recognized way too late. Without the help of all the volunteers, it would have turned into a catastrophe long time ago.

After the long way through Europe, why do so many people desire to get to England?

Not everyone in the camp wants to go to England. A lot of them sought asylum in France, but were not accepted for an official refugee camp yet. Also, for instance Sudanese have higher chances of receiving asylum in England, as the procedure is less time consuming than in Germany or France. Additionally, there are also family and language issues. Most people there rather speak English than German or French.

But do refugees actually cross the canal?

Yes, there is an organized mafia offering highly dangerous methods to cross it, charging up to 5.000 euros for the smuggling. Numerous people also try to cross the border by hiding in lorries. For some of them this journey ends deadly.

Do you think you have changed during all these months at the camp?

Yes! The time at the camp has shaped me strongly. Soon, the camp became a kind of home to me and I valued it a lot, due to all the people I have met there. My understanding of sharing has changed. At the beginning I was under the delusion of only giving and working constantly. Throughout the months I had to learn that taking is an important part of giving – this is how it becomes a chance for both sides. I started to appreciate invitations for tea or meals or simply gladly accepted a conversation.

Just now, the police started vacating the camp. How do you feel about it?

I have mixed feelings about it. For one thing I am glad that finally something is changing, because it could not go on like this! This place should not exist! Then again, I am worried about the individuals and their destinies. I hope the vacating takes place peacefully.

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Conflictfood and Slowfood

Slow Food instead of Fast Food

Food equals pleasure – tasty and responsible enjoyment. This is why Conflictfood is looking for culinary specialties from conflict regions, in order to strengthen their local structures.Building such business relationships cannot be done overnight – it requires sensitivity and – is ‘slow’! Slowfood is an organization that was founded 30 years ago as a movement against the increasing popularity of fast food and they committed to saving our marvellous culinary culture.Slowfood’s criterion is good, clean and fair: Excellent taste, sustainable production and rewarding workers fairly.  Food has to be produced in a manner that neither humans nor nature or animals are harmed. This cannot be achieved by rushing through it – represented by Slowfood’s logo: an edible snail. Quality needs time. It includes a sustainable and environmental friendly production, which is also necessary to protect our biodiversity. To secure the protection of our biodiversity, Slowfood launched an additional project ten years ago: The Ark of taste. Eat what needs to be saved! The Ark of Taste takes in passengers, which cannot survive due to today’s market conditions, referring to animals, plans, food and farming methods, which are threatened with extinction.

The Biodiversity of Palestine

At this year’s Stadt Land Food Festival, we, Conflictfood, and Slowfood Berlin joined forces to taste the culinary diversity of Palestine.Our diverse food is closely linked to our cultural identity. What is not demanded will not be produced and a great part of our cultural heritage fades away. Identity, especially cultural identity, plays an important role for people living and surviving in Palestine. Hence, such important traditional and cultural heritages can be found in their kitchen as well, for instance Akkoub and Loof. Both plants are considered delicacies – if one knows how to prepare it well. Akkoub is a wild plant, which can be found in the mountain scenery. Its preparation was once celebrated as a ritual. Loof is another passenger whose preparation is considered very difficult, as the raw plant is poisonous and if not prepared right, it has a strong bitter taste. Due to these hindrances both of these plants are in danger of disappearing from our culinary world.Another passenger, who has taken a special seat on the Ark, is Freekeh. Freekeh is a green harvested wheat roasted over an open fire. People have used it for thousands of years. The word Freekeh has its origin in the Arab language and means „to rub“. According to an old story, Freekeh was found by coincidence. During an assault on a little village, young wheat fields were burned. The farmers desperately tried to save their harvest and started to rub off the burned part. The outcome? A roasted, delicious seed. And this is how Freekeh was found and came to its name. It is considered a specialty in numerous Arab countries, especially in Palestine where it is used along with traditional dishes. Freekeh is a natural health booster and a wonderful resource of protein. It is a great supplement for athletes and is largely recommended for people with diabetes. But most importantly – it is delicious!

This great wheat has been on the menu in Syria, Palestine and Jordan for more than four thousand years. And yet – it is not well known in Europe so far. In the north of the West Bank, Conflictfood met a group of organic farmers at the granary of Palestine, who grow Freekeh according to ancient traditions.  It is those farmers we want to support, by creating new opportunities of sales markets and by providing a stable economic perspective by fair and direct trade.Get Freekeh!Our consumption has an impact on people living on this earth. Together we can walk a new path and show everyone that social responsibility and trade go hand in hand.

Conflictfood can be your alternative. We encounter our partners as equals. Let us save Freekeh from oblivion together with Slowfood and simultaneously support farmers from the West Bank. So we can appreciate our food fully: with tasty and responsible enjoyment.

Here you can buy our Freekeh

Afghan Curiosities Vol. 1

Conflictfood wants to show you another side of the conflict regions transcending dominant negative media images.

With our series Curiosities we regularly offer you exciting, amusing and bizarre information from all walks of life of our partner countries.

Volume 1 combines sports, diversity and bling bling – are you curious yet? Let’s start!

Did you know that the Afghan national sport includes the carcass of a dead goat?

Buz” is the Dari word for “goat“. Buzkashi translated literally from Dari means “goat grabbing“. A wild form of rugby on horseback, where the goal is to get the water-soaked, headless goat from one side of the field to the designated winning spot on the other.

The buz is soaked in water beforehand to toughen it up. It’s placed in a chalked out circle on the ground. At a signal, the two teams try to grab the animal carcass and ride to another chalked out circle on the opposite side of the playing field to drop the dead goat. The winner is the one who gets the (largest piece) buz there first.

The creation of Buzkashi is, perhaps apocryphally, thought to have been inspired by Ghengis Khan’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1219-21, when pillaging Mongols on horseback would sweep up local Afghan livestock at a gallop.

Afghans would like to see this as an official Olympic sport, and it has been proposed to Olympic committees on several occasions. Although this sport has recently seen the introduction of more rules and has been sponsored by Afghan Airlines and various business owners, it doesn’t seem likely that it will become an official Olympic sport in the near future.

Flying hooves, fierce whips, shoving, grabbing, and the melee of gorgeous Arabian horses results in tough sport only master players may win. It is a dangerous game!

Did you know how ethnically diverse Afghan population is?

Afghanistan has a wide variety of ethnic groups with each having different linguistic, religious and ethnic identities. This is partly due to silk traders traveling the Silk Route from China to the Western world, creating a nomadic trait in Afghanistan. Also Afghan topography has contributed to keeping people and communities isolated from each other. During the course of the 20th century, contact between different groups increased, with development of the country’s communication and road system and consolidation of state power. This contact continued after the Soviet invasion, although the country’s development stagnated and violence erupted.

Estimates of the numbers of different ethnic groups have to be taken with a grain of salt. There has not been a census in Afghanistan for decades, and all figures are based on estimates.

Pashtuns are Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group and are estimated to make up around 40% of the Afghan population. The majority follow the Sunni Muslim doctrine.  Pashtuns are the world’s largest remaining tribal community. They have held the reins of power in Afghanistan since the 18th century.

Tajiks are also mostly Sunni Muslims, but they speak Dari and group cohesion is non-tribal. They constitute the second largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, an estimated 30%. They have long been more urbanised than other groups. The majority, however, still live scattered in the mountainous north and north-eastern areas, such as Badakhshan, and parts of Herat province along the western border with Iran.

Hazaras account for about 15% of the population and are the third largest ethnic group.  The majority of Hazaras are located in Hazarajat, an area in the central highlands of Afghanistan that they controlled autonomously until the end of the 19th century. The majority of the Hazara belong to the Twelvers, a branch of the Shia Muslim doctrine, while only a small minority belongs to the Sunni doctrine. Hazaras speak Hazaragi, a dialect very close to Dari that uses many Turkish and Mongolian expressions.

The Uzbek and Turkmen minorities in Afghanistan make up about 10% of the population.  They are Sunni Muslim and originate historically from nomadic tribes that arrived in waves from Central Asia. Their languages belong to the Turkic language family. They are traditionally associated with the areas northwest of the Hindu Kush mountain range, near the borders of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Aimaqs are the smallest of the main ethnic groups and probably account for around 5%.  They are Sunni Muslims, and their primary language is Dari with many loan words from Turkish.  They are tribes that historically settled around the western parts of the Hindu Kush, that is, east of Herat and west of the Hazarajat.

Farsiwan are settled in western Afghanistan, near the border with Iran.  They speak a Persian dialect that is close to Dari and they belong to Twelver branch of Shia Muslim in Afghanistan.

Nuristani people are settled in the eastern Afghan mountains where they make their living from agriculture and livestock. They are Sunni Muslims and speak a language that is considered to be very old, with features from both Persian and Hindi. Living in isolated valleys and rough terrain, Nuristanis had a distinct culture and a polytheistic religion, but were conquered and forcibly converted to Islam in the end of the 19th century.

Kyrgyz are Turkic-speaking, and before the war they lived mostly in the Pamir Wakhan Corridor, the long and thin strip of Afghan territory that stretches northeast from Badakshan province to form a narrow border with China. They herd Yak-oxen, goats and camels.  There are only few Kyrgyz living in Afghanistan today.  Most of them fled to Turkey, China, Pakistan or other countries during the Soviet occupation.

Among other smaller ethnic groups are Arabs, Pashayi, Baloch, Pamiris, Brahuis, Mongols, Qizilbash, Hindus, Kohistani, Gujars and Sikhs.

Did you know that Egyptians pharaohs loved Afghan bling bling?

Afghanistan’s most unique and probably most beautiful material is the deep dark blue lapis lazuli. In ancient Egypt pharaohs loved to wear jewelry made of this precious material and they found ways to have it imported all the way from mines in today’s Afghanistan. Afghanistan was the source of lapis lazuli for the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, as well as the later Greeks and Romans.

Lapis Lazuli is found in limestone in the Kokcha River valley of Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan, where the Sar-e-Sang mine deposits have been worked for more than 6,000 years.

Afghanistan’s other natural resources comprises of silver, zinc, gold, copper, and iron ore that are found in the southeast. Potentially important petroleum and natural gas reserves are found in the north. The country also has uranium, coal, salt etc.Curiosities vol. 2 will be published soon  – stay tuned and support conflictfood!

Read more about Afghanistan

Afghan poppy trails and versatile dependencies

Poppy – semiotically, the flower has an innocent connotation almost sounding cute. Visually, the sea of faded pink and white blossoms in a poppy field creates a romantic atmosphere. But, after the harvest the sweet flowers dramatically change their meaning. With their art installation ‚Poppy – Trails of Afghan Heroin’ – currently exhibited at c/o Berlin Exhibitionhouse for Photography – Antoinette de Jong and Robert Knoth want to open our eyes for the brutality of international drug trade based on poppy.

For the past two decades both artists followed the routes of Afghan heroin, from Afghanistan to all directions, North, East, South and West, via Russia to West Europe and from China, to East Africa and Dubai. Their multimedia installation documents the dark sides of globalisation. Brutal gang wars, illegal money laundering, corruption, trafficking of women and deathly addiction – they show an impressive kaleidoscope of criminality, crisis and chaos.

Once, goods, cultures and religions were exchanged by the famous Afghan Silk Road. Today, mainly drugs are smuggled and chaos reins the route. Drug trade especially flourishes in conflict and war regions. “The opium trade loves smuta, the Russian word for chaos and confusion. Wherever the heroin caravan passes, organized crime is surging. The volume of money being made is so vast that whole nation states are being undermined”, explains a designated female voice while images picturing dealers, prostitutes, boarder soldiers, police man and children are displayed. Smuta rules conflict regions, and drugs are one integral part of it.

Dependency and Addiction

 

Afghanistan produces more than 90 % of the available opium worldwide. It is a centre of the global drug network. Around 50 billion US-dollars are earned annually with Afghan heroin. Surely, small farmers who actually cultivate the poppy definitely do not cream off the lion’s share. Corrupt state officials, powerful warlords and the Afghan Taliban are the main beneficiaries.

Nevertheless, the opium production builds the foundation of the life of many Afghan farmers. Even though they don’t find themselves in a very rosy position, their everyday life might look worse without the pink flowers. In 2014, a governor from Kandahar clarifies:

“The farmer benefits from cultivating poppy in multiple ways. They don’t need good roads, cold storage, tractor, as farmers can carry the poppies by hand to their storages or wherever they want to sell them. And the best thing is that the buyers directly pay them a visit to get the poppy.”On the one hand, economically speaking, opium and heroin are very potent goods traded in heavy business deals. On the other hand, they weaken societies and their consumers irrevocably leading them into dependencies and addiction. All together around 15 Million people are consuming heroin synthesized from Afghan poppy. Following the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, approximately 8 % of the Afghan population are addicted to drugs – hence, about a million of the 15 to 64 year-olds, whicht is twice as much as the global average. Many use heroin and opium as a medication against the dreariness of a life in crisis.Drug use on the streets of KabulFor centuries opium was used as a tranquilizer and painkiller. Only in the course the 1980s Afghanistan became a hub within the global drug supply chains. During the Soviet occupation heroin and opium were smuggled to finance the war against the invaders. After the occupation many Mujahidin groups fought for the control of the Trade routes and drugs, following the principle: Who controls the opium trade secures power for himself. 1999 the Taliban destroyed 90% of the poppy fields, artificially raising the market prices of the drug. Only years later after the fall of the Taliban the poppy production magically increased again. Between 2001 and 2007 the outcome rose from 185 tons to 8200 tons.

A global network

 

Of course, this increase of production is related to a raising international demand. With a huge info graphic, de Jong and Knoth visualize the complexity of the drug network. The underlying trade relations show in an exemplary way the linkages between conflict, informal economies and drug trade. Countries that historically played an important role in the Afghanistan-Conflict are still crucially linked to the network. Currently, with 21% Russia is the biggest customer of the Afghan heroin and 10% of the harvests are traded with East Africa (fighters from Somalia supported the Mujaheddin’s war against the Soviets).Uniquely, the art installation embodies the complexity of the drug network and underlines that a one-dimensional-approach to the ‘War on Drugs’ only aiming at arresting dealers and destroy poppy fields, cannot be successful. As a part of the global informal economy the drug trade developed historically and is interlinked to many other sectors. Too many pieces create the whole image, too much depends on the colourful, intoxicating flowers.

 

Saffron instead of opium!

 

Still, it is possible to open up alternatives for the small Afghan farmers – and the key is saffron. Saffron is the perfect substitute for poppy because its cultivation provides the same advantages for farmers: the flowers achieve high profit margins and require comparably low agricultural infrastructures.

That is why Conflictfood imports Afghan saffron – to uproot the poppy cultivation.

Help us to disarm the conflict economy in Afghanistan!

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The House of Peace ‘Paiwand-e-Noor’

Investing in education

 

Children are the future of every country. Therefore their education is one of the most sustainable projects that a society can invest into – but only if there are any sources of funding. Conflictfood is investing a share of the sales revenues in educational projects at the countries of origin. Personally, we carefully select these projects and convince ourselves of their standards.

Buying our products is your contribution towards a peaceful future!

In Afghanistan we visited a very special project – all together it is a children’s home, orphanage, school and a shelter supporting and encouraging disabled children. On the outskirts of Kabul 113 children found a safe place flooded with light and a place they can call home. It is not without a reason that this house is called ‚Paiwand-e-Noor’ – literally meaning ‘fountain of light’. This house is a peaceful haven far away from the shadows of the war.

Scar(r)ed by war 

 

Build in 2005 the project not only shelters orphans but also children who cannot be sufficiently supported by their own families. The kids are between 6 and 18 years old. Almost half of them do not have any relatives or come from districts far away from Kabul. The other half is living with their families in Kabul who themselves are struggling to support their education. Every morning they are picked up, every night they are brought back by the orphanage’s transport service.

All children who are playing and learning here are traumatised. Growing up in a country that has been struggling with enduring conflicts for the past 38 years, they experienced the dark side of war. War injuries have physically disabled many Afghan children. Some stepped on landmines or were injured by grenades, others have been mutilated by so-called ‘butterfly bombs’ – weapons that are perfidiously disguised as toys or pens to attract children. When the kids play with them, they explode.

Due to their physical limitations many children and youngsters are excluded from society. The aim of the project is to help children, who need protection and support, including them into a family environment and enabling them to pursue a school education and a career so they can finally live a self-determined life.

Education – a path into an independent future

 

Precisely, the project ‚Paiwand-e-Noor’ encourages the children to attend regular school education and complete their degrees. Afterwards they can decide if they want to pursue a craft training or any higher level of education. Together with a team of voluntary tutors from a private university of Kabul, the supervisors especially support the psychologically and physically challenged kids. Moreover, at the house the boys and girls can learn to carpenter or tailor. They are offered diverse tangible knowledge, which might serve them to earn for a living in their future.

Dreams instead of traumas 

 

In good weather the kids are enjoying the small playground or the grass soccer field close by. A national sports club provides them with the possibility to use all the facilities and play their most favorite sports there. Physical activities help them reduce emotional stress and process the traumatized past. No matter which physical constraints they experienced through the war – here everyone is part of one team.

Moreover, to actively help the children with psychological trauma psychotherapist Karin Struck from Germany is supporting and visiting ‘Paiwand-e-Noor’ on a regular basis. During her stay in Kabul she lives and works together with the kids. Since she is fluent in the local language Dari, she is connecting easily with them. Finally, with her constant work she tries to stabilize their mental state.

Also, the medical doctor Dr. Gulab Gul is in charge of their wellbeing. At war times the doctor himself was a refugee child. That is why he is committed with heart and soul to the project.

Community comes first 

 

Passing on important values like understanding, friendship, tolerance, and gender equality are the educational key concept of ‘Paiwand-e-Noor’. Family and community structures form the base of the living together. Inside of the enlivened common rooms the kids handicraft, crochet and play together. In their dorms they have their small own empires simply put together with a bed and cupboard. Nevertheless, this is more than most of their families could offer them at home.

Still, for many years the housing was in poor condition. The ceilings, floors and windows were broken and the plaster was crumbling off. During winter humidity and coldness caused typical diseases like the flu. The desperately needed renovation works started in 2015. Again, the kids played an active role renovating. They made crucial decisions and were trained by the craftsmen to gain practical knowledge for their future. Finally, the house is now prepared for the highly changing Afghan weather conditions.

The beginning of a success story

 

By the end of 2014 fourteen youngsters successfully graduated from school. Three immediately started studying at the university and one is already working as a dentist right now. The other eleven graduates found employment too. Every now and then they visit ‘Paiwand-e-Noor’ and it still feels like home.

The project is not just of temporal character. Periodically, the project manager Abdul Saboor has to send reports to the ‘Verein für Afghanistan Förderung Bonn’. Also ambassadors of the German-based association are visiting the project regularly to check the development. Thanks to the financial support of ‘Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung’ the project was flourishing. Several TV-broadcasts introduced ‘Paiwand-e-Noor’ to the Afghan public and right now it is more popular then ever – 200 kids have been put on a waiting list. Unfortunately, the funding period expired in spring 2016. Now the future of the house is uncertain.

The financial donations of Conflictfood’s saffron sales could fill that gap. Apart from paying the staff and costs of maintenance, we also invest in IT-equipment for the project.

Kids are our future and many people in Afghanistan are struggling to invest into their education. Therefore projects like Paiwand-e-Noor are worth a mint. Exactly that is why Conflictfood is offering financial support to this children’s home – so that the fountain of light continues to sparkle.

Spending three whole days with the kids and supervisors was a personal enrichment for us! Together we played soccer, we observed them doing incredible artworks and received two handmade beautiful scarves as a gift. We are totally looking forward to our next visit!

 

Support ‘Paiwand-e-Noor with buying Conflictfood’s saffron! 

Mehr lesen über Afghanistan

Next Organic Startup Award Winner!

We are totally happy and very pleased to have won the Next Organic Startup Award!

Enjoyment is also political and requires sustainable action and thinking! The top-class jury came to a unanimous decision and chose us from a whole mountain of great products with the best commercial and marketing concepts.The jury reading the Conflictfood brochure interestedAn abundance of great products was submittedThe jury selecting the Next Organic Startup WinnerVisit us on May 22nd and 23rd at the Next Organic. @STATION Berlin.

A big thanks to the team of the Next Organic Berlin and the members of the jury Renate Künast, Simone Blömer from IHK Berlin, Milena Glimbovski from Original Unverpackt , Anna Theil from startnext, Martina Merz from | mërz punkt | umweltorientierte designagentur, Werner Landwehr from GLS Bank, Georg Kaiser from BIO COMPANY GmbH, Norbert Kunz from Social Impact Lab Berlin , Hendrik Haase from wurstsack!

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Why Conflictfood?

We want to make our contribution to fighting the black and white perception of the reasons why people have to flee.

Our mission is to strengthen weak regions and to tell our/ another story about countries, communities and individuals which are either reported on in the media only one-sidedly or even forgotten about.

Conflictfood wants to establish long term economic cooperation, partnerships as equals and enable a peaceful perspective through appreciation of the people, their work and their products.

Join us in our mission!

Conflictfood – This is us

We founded Conflictfood in 2015 with the aim of building long-term, economic cooperation with people from conflict regions and to strengthen and enable a peaceful perspective.

We want to contribute to fighting the underlying reasons why people have to flee by addressing the very root of the cause.

It is important to us to tell the other story about the countries and their people, which is different from how media usually portrays them; a story full of diversity and joy.

Our diverse and international team lives and works in Berlin. Each and every one of us brings in a unique occupational background, roots and knowledge.

What unites us is a keen interest in political contexts, global issues, but also in healthy food and eating as a concept transcending cultural norms and borders and bridging differences between societies.

Salem El-Mogaddedi

Co-Founder, Idea & Communication

This is Salem El-Mogaddedi. Originally from the field of sales, fashion and marketing, he later went on to freelance for a German NGO where he worked on project-basis in Afghanistan and visited refugee camps in Pakistan.

He also managed a media art project, which was a part of the UNESCO program, working closely together with all embassies and diplomatic missions in Berlin.

Although Salem has lived in Berlin for almost ten years, he still enjoys strolling around the city and setting out on quests for surprises every day. In addition to discovering abandoned gems, he also likes to explore the many places to eat and drink coffee.

Gernot Würtenberger

Co-Founder, Strategy & Business

As an architect and urban planner Gernot gathered many years of experience in design and project management in Vienna and Berlin. As a mediator he gained a deep insight into the nature of conflicts.

For several years he also volunteered in a fair trade shop, Weltladen, in Austria.

Gernot is a passionate photographer as you can see on our website and when the sun is shining you can find him kayaking on the river Spree.

Laura Hellwig

Projekt Management & Editorial

Laura always has been drawn to travel and explore. She studied International Relations and Communication in Vienna, Perth and Berlin. Before she volunteered in social projects in the Dominican Republic. Because of her interest in Peace and Conflict Research and her passion for culinary delights she joined Conflictfood.

Conflictfood is cultivating peace.

From the conflict regions of the world, Conflictfood brings the best traditional agricultural products to your table, while strengthening local structures and offering a peaceful future.

Through fair and direct trade with small farmer cooperatives in conflict-stricken countries, products such as spices, dried fruits or oils are purchased and brought to Berlin. They are then packaged in a workshop by people with disabilities into an attractively designed packaging.With every product comes a brochure about the country, conflict and the people living there. Our website and blog is a hub for acquiring further information and fostering a dialogue. We offer the blog and our social media as platforms to engage the public in a discussion.

In addition, 1 Euro from each purchase goes to a social institution in the country of product’s origin. This is visited by us personally and the cash flow is documented transparently.By purchasing any Conflictfood product you can actively contribute to making the world a little more peaceful.