17-year-old Maya Al-Masry from QAK believes art has the ability to transcend borders
Food waste is a global issue. And with far-reaching consequences, such as increased greenhouse emissions, damaged biodiversity, and wasted land and water, it has been recognized by the United Nations as a Sustainable Development Goal.
And Maya Al-Masry, a Qatar Academy Al Khor student set to graduate this year, has created a series of paintings to highlight the importance of reducing food wastage. “It was really important to me to raise awareness about the issue of food waste. I believe that it is very selfish of us to waste food when others around the world can’t even find water to survive.
“And it was the people around me that really affected my view of this issue – whether at school, in a restaurant, or at a family gathering. I would constantly see full plates of food being thrown away. Seeing that made me extremely sad. There are children all over the world who live in countries affected by famine, while the most of us have never experienced an empty table, or the real meaning of hunger.”
And it was the people around me that really affected my view of this issue – whether at school, in a restaurant, or at a family gathering. I would constantly see full plates of food being thrown away.
Another reason Al-Masry decided to pursue this project was her faith. “Wasting food is an act that totally contradicts with our religious beliefs where we are taught about the danger of wasting our blessings.”
She says the Holy month of Ramadan was an eye-opening experience for her. “We find it difficult to refrain from eating and drinking for just one day, but there are children in some parts of Africa and other poor countries that go without food for two, three, four days at times.”
I strongly believe that everyone has the ability to make a change in the world, whatever their age. Individuals do not have to take the biggest action to be able to make a difference; a small action can have a great impact.
Al-Masry suggests there are ways to combat this, such as rather than cooking large of portions of food, cook just enough food for the family.
Maya Al-Masry received support from her school – Qatar Academy Al Khor, part of Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Pre-University Education – where her art teacher helped guide her paintings.
“I received a lot of help when I presented this project to the QF community because it was important to send the message to a bigger audience, not just my school,” says Al-Masry.
Al-Masry chose art as the way to communicate her message instead of spoken or written work to raise awareness, saying: “I created three paintings that would encourage sympathy, since I was comparing the wealth that we live with and the hunger that other people suffer from.”
She believes that no matter what language is spoken by her audience, art will still be able to send the message that she is trying to convey.
All three paintings – titled You Know I Exist, What You Leave is What I Live for, and A Scream of Hunger – were inspired by singer Bob Marley, who used three main colors to deliver the message – red represents blood; yellow represents gold; and green represents the land of Africa.
Al-Masry says this experience has taught that as a 17-year-old she has the ability to make a difference in the world. “It has also taught me a sense of responsibility, to have sympathy for others, and look at things from a different perspective.
“I strongly believe that everyone has the ability to make a change in the world, whatever their age. Individuals do not have to take the biggest action to be able to make a difference; a small action can have a great impact.”