Anondolokey, a hostel for women and girls in Bashundhara, was founded by Moriom Mannan around six years ago. Ahead of International Women's Day (March 8), she talks about her journey with Star Youth, The Daily Star.
What began as Moriom's idea of being able to live fearlessly and comfortably around women, became a driving force for her in 2018.
She took part in Bangladesh's Quota Reform Protests to peacefully get the points across, but never imagined that she would be tormented in the streets, and detained by the police for more than 24 hours.
Moriom was living in Dhaka, away from her family in Khulna, before the incident. When she went back to Khulna, she was not welcome. Her family was more concerned about what people were saying about her, as opposed to being concerned about her well-being.
The people at Anondolokey also turned their backs on her. After returning to Dhaka, she found refuge in a hostel at Indira Road. She met a woman named Fatema Khatun by the end of 2018, and they formed a close bond.
Fatema inspired Moriom to continue her work towards Anondolokey instead of abandoning it, and eventually, became a shareholder of the hostel. Moriom shared that Fatema is one of the most important people in her life. Her support was essential for Moriom to tread on with her dream to build a safe space for women and girls.
Moriom rents out rooms to women who find it hard to arrange accommodation, as independent individuals. She also provides space to destitute women, free of cost.
Throughout the pandemic, Moriom witnessed an influx of women renting out space to take breaks from their otherwise exhausting lives. She accommodated a pregnant woman and several injured women for weeks, because they were craving space and time for themselves. A young girl's aunt left her with Moriom since the girl's mother passed away and her father abandoned them prior to that. Moriom took the girl's responsibility without any hesitation.
A European woman took refuge under Moriom's care, after she was violated at home. Last year during Ramadan, Moriom cooked meals for rickshaw pullers around the hostel, alongside cooking for the 17 women under her care. "At the cost of wanting to help as many women as I can, I was hurt several times by unfaithful people, but the women at Anondolokey add value to my life," she said. Anondolokey operates under certain strict rules. For example, the women are required to inform Moriom about their whereabouts, in case they plan to come home late.
"In the future, I hope to pay off my debts and get more renters for the empty rooms that I procured," Moriom added.
As a progressive and understanding woman, she is making our community a better place through her efforts.
The author is a freelance journalist. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.