Combating food insecurity in Lebanon
“In Lebanon, where around 30 percent of the population lives in poverty, almost 30 percent of all edible food never gets eaten. I started FoodBlessed in 2012 to provide a sustainable solution to the twin problems of food insecurity and food waste by pioneering a local, community-based, volunteer-driven approach.
“In 2015, I was a finalist at the prestigious King Abdullah Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement (KAAYIA). Consequently, I got the chance to be part of a unique one-year mentoring programme with Mowgli. During this period, my mentor, Omar El Manialawy, was a great added value. FoodBlessed was the epicentre of my activities, so Omar helped me to reflect on things more. He made it very easy for me to share with him and address how the issues in my personal life were affecting the way I ran FoodBlessed and to identify areas of self-development.
“The training I’ve taken, the places I’ve visited, the people I’ve met, the friendships I’ve made and the inspiring one-year mentor I ended up having as a friend for life, all made my Mowgli Mentoring journey the memorable and worthwhile journey that it was.
“Since its inception, thousands of our Hunger Heroes have helped spread FoodBlessed’s message far and wide to help make hunger and food waste a thing of the past. Since then, together with our Blessed partners, we’ve successfully distributed over 400,000 free meals to those in need and saved more than one million tonnes of food from the bin, an amazing achievement that we’re really proud of. However, that’s just one of many reasons that inspire us to achieve even more.
Using the power of food and social responsibility, what we do gives people in Lebanon a sense of empowerment and a chance to care and inspire each other to become more active citizens in their respective communities. Through a meal, cooked, rescued, served or shared, my volunteers and I are creating and promoting change on a daily basis, one meal at a time.
“As a young, female, activist it is difficult to be an agent of change at times, especially in Arab societies. It is sometimes extremely difficult for those around you to understand why you’re doing what you are doing. But if you’re anything like me, always remind yourself to never lose hope; to be true to yourself; and to spend as much time as you can doing what you love, because you only get one life. And if you’re lucky enough, find a mentor (or two or more) to help you reach your full potential.”
Follow Maya on Twitter to learn more about her journey @maya_terro