SOAS University of London

Alumni Engagement

Lebanon

Maya, MSc Migration, Mobility, and Development 2017

Maya

Maya is a life-long social, environmental, and political activist. In 2012, she turned to food activism.

She holds a BSc in Biology and a Masters of Public Health (MPH) from the American University of Beirut. She also holds an MA in Development Economics and International Cooperation from the University of Rome II. In 2017, she earned an MSc in Migration, Mobility, and Development from SOAS as a Chevening Scholar.

Prior to SOAS, she was leading and managing FoodBlessed as its Executive Director. FoodBlessed is a pioneering hunger-relief and food-rescue non-profit organization in Lebanon whose mission is to unite and nourish communities through the power of food, social responsibility, and volunteerism. FoodBlessed provides an effective and efficient solution to hunger, while addressing the serious and growing problem of food waste in Lebanon.

Maya chose SOAS because it is the world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It offers a truly global perspective with its vast repository of knowledge and expertise in its specialist regions, but more importantly, she chose SOAS because of its world class teaching which happens inside the classroom and then there’s the learning that takes place outside the classroom given that SOAS embraces one of the most diverse student bodies that span across all 5 continents.

After graduating from SOAS, Maya returned to Lebanon where she still leads her nonprofit FoodBlessed. Under her leadership, the community-based and volunteer-driven organization successfully served 1,020,00 meals, packaged 25,000 Food Assistance Packages, rescued over 250 000 tons of surplus food, and involved more than 4200 community members viz. individuals and institutions.

Maya has won several awards, most recent of which are the ‘50 Next Award for People Shaping the Future of Gastronomy’ and the UN Women’s ‘Leader of Change’ in 2021. Previous awards have included the Foreign and Commonwealth Office “Chevening Award” in 2016 and “Global Changemaker Award” in 2018, as well as UN-OCHA’S “Top Women Humanitarians” in 2019. In 2018, she ran as an independent candidate for the Lebanese Parliamentary elections.