Moner School gets global recognition
Fairooz Faizah Beether of Bangladesh has been announced the winner of 2021 Goalkeepers Global Goals Changemaker Award by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards are an annual recognition of remarkable individuals taking action to help achieve the Global Goals by 2030.
With the 2021 Changemaker Award, the Gates Foundation recognises Fairooz Faizah Beether for her work promoting good health and well-being under the Sustainable Development Goal- 3 (SDG-3), according to a press release.
Faizah has co-founded Moner School, an online platform that aims to raise awareness about mental health and ensure equal access to mental health care across the country.
Faizah was among the three who were given this year's three additional Goalkeepers Global Goals awards for their work supporting the Global Goals in their local communities.
Of them, Jenifer Colpas of Colombia was awarded with the 2021 Progress Award and Satta Sheriff of Liberia with the 2021 Campaign Award, according to the press release.
The main award -- the 2021 Global Goalkeeper Award -- was given to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former United Nations under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women.
Launched as a continuation of a three month-long project in 2018, Moner School is an initiative to educate people as well as give them a space where they can talk about mental health freely and get help whenever they need.
"We just wanted a place where people can write letters anonymously, so we can set up a meeting with a counselor," Faizah, a final semester honours student of Business Administration in Khulna University, told The Daily Star.
From there, seven strangers who met through a youth platform project, began the task of getting people's stories, putting them in touch with counselors, and meeting their needs.
Three months later when the project ended, five members of the original group, including Faizah, made this their passion project, and the Moner School was born.
Now, the Moner School is an anonymous online platform that works with the youth to enlighten them about the importance of mental health care through training, workshops, a 24/7 online mental health first aid service, and talk therapy.
"We're trying not only to provide counseling sessions or therapy, we're also trying to make people understand how important mental health is, as well as train them on mental health tools," Faizah said.
So far, Moner School has served around 900 youths from inside the country and a few others from several foreign countries, according to Faizah.
About her inspiration behind her effort, she described her own life history.
For Faizah and her mother, their courage to prioritise their own mental health was the first step in healing from a personal tragedy that dismantled their sense of security.
Faizah said her father was killed when she was 13.
Home was no longer safe, and as the trauma of losing her father was hers to bear alone. It wasn't long before her mother recognised her daughter's depression and got her the help she needed.
Years later, when Faizah's mother felt the full brunt of her loss, it was Fairah who returned the favor. As they emerged out of their own suffering, Faizah was called to pursue a career in mental health.
Faizah continues to make mental wellness and education a part of her day-to-day life. When life gets too noisy, she takes a pause and practices mindfulness through walking and meditation.
And with the expertise of psychologists and psychiatrists, she can access the training and tools to create a stronger online community for her peers and build on that for years to come.
About the winners, Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, "These award winners show how women are leading the way in coming up with innovative solutions needed to rebuild our communities and nations.
"This year's winners continue to inspire us as they work tirelessly to create a more equal, resilient, and compassionate world."