Meet Maha Akamine: A Q&A with Our New Buen Vivir Fund Coordinator
Why did you want to work for Thousand Currents? What made you apply to the organization?
After many years working at Casa social-environmental Fund, a Brazilian organization that operates throughout South America, I felt the urge to develop further in my career, face unique challenges, and improve my knowledge. But some values such as socio-environmental justice, diversity, and equality needed to be the basis of this new stage of my life.
The Thousand Currents team, an organization that maintains all the principles that I consider paramount with a decolonizing and transforming vision, collaborative initiatives with the grassroots communities and social movements including them in the decision-making processes, was an obvious choice.
In 2019, I had my first experience with Thousand Currents through the Thousand Currents Academy, a life-changing process. When I applied for the selection process for the coordination position at the Buen Vivir Fund, I had no doubt that being part of the Thousand Currents team would be the perfect fit for this stage of my life and a great honor for me.
What will be your new role at Thousand Currents?
In my new role as Thousand Currents Coordinator of Buen Vivir Fund along with Gaithiri Siva, the Buen Vivir Fund Director, is to support in administrative processes, implementation of long-term strategies, and the expansion of the Buen Vivir Fund, being part of the knowledge-building processes, being in contact with partners groups, and also:
- Supporting the implementation of all strategy, operations, and work plans of the Buen Vivir Fund
- Supporting BVF investment and loan management:
- Assisting in implementing the learning and experimenting strategy for the Buen Vivir Fund
- Participating in organization-wide learning, cross-program partnership and administrative effectiveness.
What gifts do you hope to share in your new role?
I have worked with projects in grassroots communities during the past six years, along with Indigenous groups, quilombolas, urban groups and social movements in South America. I have a degree in Civil Engineering, but my professional career has always been focused on managing social projects.
This work taught me about the social and environmental diversity present globally, and I learned that supporting grassroots communities can change the world. It has the greatest impact on the most in need, reduces inequality and impacts everyone’s lives in broader ways.
It was a long knowledge process journey where I learned the importance of listening to the grassroots groups and how each territory has its unique dynamics to deal with existing needs. I want to amplify this knowledge, learn, and participate in creating processes in an inclusive way with the partner groups and the Thousand Currents team.
I am aware of my privileges and want to use them in the process of fighting for a more inclusive, fairer, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-colonialist, and feminist world.
What is your vision or hope for the communities you work with and the work you’re doing?
I hope to see real systemic changes, where communities can shift the power in their environment in a transformative way and to support the vision for a fairer and inclusive world.
The investments and donations made by Thousand Currents are innovative and change the dynamic of how philanthropy works today. They shift power, giving voice to our partners and include them in the decision-making process. Our partners are at the forefront role, struggling to transform the environment in which they live. It is necessary to create accessible tools that facilitate the actions required. I hope this work will continue to change all the people involved, the investors, the team that I’m part of now, and the partners. My hope is that our actions can be increasingly broad and empathic.
What do you do when you are not working at Thousand Currents?
I’m Brazilian, but I currently live in Santiago, and I love winter and good wines! In my free time, I enjoy reading good books, watching documentaries and listening to Beyonce! (Activities in quarantine times that ended up taking up a lot of my time). And when time allows, I go for walks, ride a bike, explore the countryside, taste Latin cuisines with my partner Jorge, and enjoy spending time with family and friends. Chile welcomes many immigrants, which makes me much happier and makes me feel more at home.