aMAZIng Volunteer: Nea

Nea is an incredible artist who has helped with MAZI’s branding, including our short animation for our crowd funder. Nea has also been volunteering on our packing days.a

I’m Nea, a freelance designer and illustrator. I began working with MAZI after moving to Bristol just a few months ago.

 I started by creating animations and illustrations for the launch of their Crowd funder, but this week I was also able to join the amazing group of volunteers who prepare the food boxes for delivery. Seeing the fresh ingredients for the first time, the amazing recipes and the care and energy with which each meal was prepped and packaged made me feel incredibly proud to be part of an initiative like this.

I am excited to be here for two main reasons. The first and most obvious reason is, of course, that providing food for disadvantaged youths is an idea that’s very easy to support. We should all work together to make tasty and nutritious food available to everyone.

 The other, more personal reason I wanted to get involved in the project was that I realised how absurd some of my own perceptions of food actually were. The very concept of sustainable or locally sourced food seemed, in my head, to carry some very specific associations; those words felt synonymous with trendy and overpriced, distinctly exclusive and… well, upper-class.

MAZI’s message of inclusivity resonated with me. I truly believe that healthy and sustainable food shouldn’t only be available for those with enough leisure time and disposable income to be a ‘foodie’, only associated with visiting cool restaurants or spending hours cooking intricate dishes from expensive and impossible-to-find ingredients. A versatile, nutritious diet, the ability to try new things and enjoy a meal without guilt over some obscure ethical questions considering the environmental impact of the food – none of this should be considered a luxury. I needed to change my perception. Healthy and responsibly sourced foods can’t just be expensive signifiers of social status among city-dwelling hipsters like me, and the food scene in any city would benefit from being made more accessible.

On another personal note, I feel that during the pandemic those who can have been looking for passion projects; something meaningful to do to avoid an existential crisis. A program like this is the obvious answer. As pretentious as it may sound, it really feels good to take concrete action – even in a small way. This is probably obvious to most people but came as a surprise to me: volunteering or charity work do not need to be an inconvenience to your life in any way. Every little bit helps, as long as you’re doing something.

In the future I want to keep working with MAZI in any way I can. Going forward, I’d like to help make initiatives like this as approachable as possible for people from different backgrounds and social circles. I want to empower others to reach out and get involved.

Finding the answer to major issues like food insecurity is hardly the responsibility of any individual. However, I would like to highlight the ways even the smallest action taken by one person, combined with the actions of others through a proper network – you know, the community – can create lasting change.

These are the people and stories behind MAZI.

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