Ayelet Berman-Cohen

I grew up in Israel, where war and conflict were (and continue to be) a common part of life. I am also a dreamer. In my dreams, Arab women, who I had long considered my ‘enemy’, baked their native breads and shared them with me. It came to me as a surprise – being fed by my foes. These dreams occurred so many times that they changed me.  I stopped seeing the Arab women as my enemies. I felt called to give back to the women who came and nourished me in my dreams.

The opportunity came from a Syrian friend who does aid work with Syrian refugees living in Lebanon. Together we created an initiative to build bakeries there so the women can make their native breads.
A connection from my adopted daughter (who grew up in Kenya) led me to a pair of Ugandan refugee camps, located just north of the Kenyan border. We have laid the foundation for a community bakery initiative there as well.

My intention is to keep building bakeries in refugee camps and other places of need around the world. The women there are strong, incredibly resilient and dedicated to providing for their families. I want to empower them to run their own small businesses, to restore a lost sense of community by making their native breads, and to support the orphans and other vulnerable people in the camps by having them donate a share of their output on a daily basis.

We have assembled a team on the ground in Uganda to build bakeries in the Nakivale and Oruchinga refugee camps, which together are home to over 150,000 refugees from across the African continent.