Photography by Nasir Hossain
The 19 years old entrepreneur, Maria Mumu, is the founder and CEO of Moshal, the foundation working against taboos concerning the social and mental soundness of the generation Z. Moshal is creating a safe space for the youth to acknowledge emotional struggles with empathy and urgency without labelling them as insignificant or secondary to human need.
With psychology as one of her favourite subjects, Maria is a young entrepreneur, anchor/ media personality with a lot to offer to the mental wellness of our youth by breaking the ice and engaging ourselves in conversations regarding psychological and emotional well-being.
The go-getter, Maria has been hustling since the age of 12, working in several shifts and various workplaces, helping her mother to keep her family financially functioning. Raised by a single mother as an epitome of strength and resilience to her, Maria learnt to fight the good fight even when her soul was crushed, and her spirit was gutted.
Battling through clinical depression, Maria feels people should not hesitate to reach out to people; seeking help. She thinks that even at the most challenging and inconvenient times, asking for help is never a sign of weakness.
While healing through positivity around comforting acquaintances, she recognised the urgency to address mental health issues. Next, she outlined her dream project and approached the Miss World Competition in 2019.
“I did not sign up for glamour and fame. That was never my intention. I did my fair share of research and planning and laid out some basic goals before I got into the competition. I even talked about it on the stage validating my cause on the large platform to share my story, voice my ideas to help others,” one of the top 5 finalists of the pageant said.
With the initial goal of catering affordable and accessible mental health care services, Maria commenced her journey earlier this year in February with a foundation notably different from her existing contemporaries in action.
Atypical to others, Moshal imposes a check and balance system. To be precise, the organisation has a client relationship and counselling services team, a team of 6 qualified members trained in different psychological first aid modules to ensure that the clients are doing well even after they have procured the treatment or attended sessions with the psychologists.
“Our volunteers are equipped to provide first aid mental aid to clients and schedule them with experts. Later, they gather feedback from the clients regarding the experience of the services and current mental state,” Maria explains. Moshal has a panel of experts, from various renowned medical institutions around Dhaka, America and India to implement modern practise fitting for the youth.
Even more so, Moshal regulates confidentiality and privacy privileges firmly and empowers their clients to exercise them.
“I had different plans before the pandemic took its course. We still feel adequate to have treated over 100 people through our services during the COVID 19 epidemic. We initiated a free hotline for everyone to provide them with free mental health services during this upsetting period. We are delighted to have served above a hundred people in such a short amount of time,” she asserts.
Maria feels ecstatic to get the blessing of the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, on her venture of advocating mental health and wishes to execute her detailed course of subsequent actions.
Maria sees that people still hold prejudices against mental health concerns. “People don’t want to talk about psychiatric health or acknowledge their influence on our lives. When I started, my ideas were served but not heard. Earning market credibility is taxing, and it will take a long time, but I am up for the long run!” she adds.
As an administrator, Maria found it toilsome to put together an effective team without monetary incentive. However, as the volunteers to have suffered from trauma and mental stress, they are more sensitive towards the cause more so than others. “People who work as volunteers are often baffled with identity crises and insecurities themselves. I try to help them and continue the chain of helping others,” she enforces.
Among what’s trending, Maria finds glorifying and romanticising mental health issues as another issue in disguise. “We are missing out on people’s behaviour, ignoring their mental health rather than recognising it. When we focus on the root of the behaviour rather than reasoning it, we can truly help them,” she adds up.
“Finally, Moshal is different because of me. It’s closer to my heart than it should be. I wouldn’t want anybody else to go through the turmoil that I have come across because of the lack of mental care support!” the torchbearer says.