Noella Coursaris Musunka
Kalebuka, DRC – She educates. We prosper
"When my father died, my mother didn’t have enough education to earn money, so she couldn’t take care of me. She gave me away because she wanted to give me a chance.”
Noella Coursaris Musunka was just five when she had to leave her birth country of the DRC to fly alone to join relatives in Belgium and then to Switzerland.
At school, Noella excelled. “When you have nothing, you know that if you fall there’s no one to pick you up. So you have to stand. I resolved very early on that I would study and work and be independent.”
After embarking on an international modelling career, she launched her non-profit organisation, Malaika, in 2007 with a mission to tackle the education crisis that is endemic to the DRC. Today, Malaika empowers thousands of Congolese girls and their communities. Its projects include a school for 280 girls which cultivates the leadership potential of each student so that she gives back to her community and has a positive, long-term impact on the future of the DRC, a community centre that provides education, health and entrepreneurship programming to 7,000 youths and adults, and nine wells that supply clean water to 18,000 people in Kalebuka, near Lubumbashi.
Today, Noella is one of the leading voices in education for girls in Africa and an ambassador for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
“In a way, Malaika is the story of me,” says Noella. “When parents do have money they educate the boys, but if you educate girls there’s less pregnancy, less HIV infection, less poverty. We need to elevate the education of women. It empowers them. It moves the country forward. It matters.”