Meet Maya Tuviera: The Youth Changemaker!
Updated: Jan 25, 2021
Activist spotlight with Maya Tuviera! Meet the youth change maker who founded Kabanata PH.
1. What is your name, pronouns, where you are from, and one fun fact about yourself?
My name is Maya Tuviera! My pronouns are She/Her/Hers, and I’m from Manila, Philippines. One fun fact about myself is that I love to write poetry!
2. Describe a bit of what you do! What impact have you or your initiatives made so far?
My 14-year-old version of a 9-5 job is my organization, Kabanata PH. I’m the Executive Director and Founder, and I started the organization when I was thirteen. Our organization focuses on bridging the gap between the pressing issues of today and the leaders of tomorrow. Before the COVID-19 pandemic imposed a community-wide quarantine in our region, we were planning some really great projects for the summer. However, we haven’t let the quarantine put a damper on our plans! We’ve been working with some other organizations on lots of projects. One of them was a Food Drive for Frontliners, wherein we sent meals to the hardworking medical staff of some of our local hospitals, including doctors, nurses, administrative staff, and more! Other than that, we post about issues that are not widely acknowledged, and look for ways for the youth to aid in the issues we talk about.
3. What prompted you to get involved in the work you do?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve valued my intelligence and morals above anything else about myself. However, being younger than many of the people around me and being a girl, people were inclined not to listen to me. Which I thought was unfair. I began to think that my ideas weren’t good enough, and I began to think-- maybe I’m not as smart as I believe I am? But then, I learned more about feminism as I grew older, and the inherent disadvantages there were of being a woman. It dawned on me that it was never about how good I was about what I did, it was about the fact that someone usually didn’t listen to people like me. So, I found people who would. I joined Girl Up’s Philippines Chapter, and I am now on the Executive Board as the Editor-in-Chief of their zine, Chika-Chika, or Girl Talk in English. I joined a bunch of other organizations too, all full of people who believed in me. And when I still wasn’t being listened to, credentials and all, that’s when I took matters into my own hands. I joined the debate team, which allowed me to fight people about the things that matter to me. Now, I’m at a place where people can listen to me and believe me because they know who I am, but I know that I had to work way harder than a lot of people to earn that respect. I also know that I shouldn’t have had to do all of that to get a seat at the table. So, my goal now with my organization was to give people the voice that I fought for for so long, and to find a group of people who will listen to them and value their opinions.
4. What does mental health mean to you in regards to you and your work?
I used to value my work above my mental health, which proved to be unproductive for me. I had a skewed view of mental health care -- I thought that it was just for people who had mental issues or sicknesses, and so I thought that mental healthcare meant medicine, treatment, and other such extremities. But as I opened my eyes and encountered mental health in my work, I learned more about it and learned that mental health care was for everyone! As a result, I’ve experienced much less burnout, and I’ve been able to love what I do without it feeling like a job.
I think that mental health care can look like seeking help. If you think you have a problem, acknowledge it and look for professional help if you can! But, mental health care also looks like taking breaks and checking what time it is to make sure you’re not working too long. It can look like family and friends time, or taking time to cultivate the hobbies you have that not many people know about. As long as it makes you happy and gives you relief, it’s caring for your mental health!
5. What advice would you give to aspiring youth activists?
My advice to aspiring youth activists is to not waste time trying to be someone or something you’re not. I’ve spent many days analyzing a trend or a pattern on the “popular” activists and their organizations, thinking of what I needed to do to get to the place they were. But I never found that pattern. And the truth is that there is none, because that’s what’s so great about the activism space; it’s diverse, and it’s full of different people who campaign for different causes. You will never influence the world by trying to be like it. In fact, you will only change it by doing something radically different. The world doesn’t need a copy of another person, it already has that activist in it. It needs you, and it needs you now! So my advice is to find what you care about, and love what you do. The rest will come naturally.