Listen to Noella Coursaris Musunka on your favorite podcast app:
Forged into Noella’s very being is a sense of strength that is coupled with courage and the innate desire to serve those in need. Her story from her youth will move you. Her story of her young adulthood will make you proud. Her story now will inspire you, empower you, and all at once make you grateful for everything you have in this world, both temporally and spiritually. I was honored (and did not realize until this podcast interview) that Noella’s very first podcast interview was this one here on Lauri’s Lemonade Stand. I am honored, humbled, and blessed to know Noella Coursaris Musunka and to have learned about her during our time together. I have no doubt you will be moved by her story and hopefully, be moved to make a difference in your part of the world – wherever that is. Enjoy and learn in this beautiful interview with Noella of Malaika and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Malaika was founded in 2007 by Noella Coursaris Musunka, a Congolese/Cypriot model, humanitarian and Ambassador for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria. The grassroots nonprofit has a mission to empower Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programs.
Malaika operates in Kalebuka, in the Southeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The majority of households practice subsistence farming and brick-making, and most people live on less than $1.25 a day. Before Malaika, the underserved area had no access to electricity, clean water, or educational facilities. The literacy rate is amongst the lowest in the country, approximately 8% for adults. Malaika’s vision is to bring hope and transformation to the DRC by providing the tools and opportunities for the Congolese people to move forward on their own terms and live their lives with dignity and purpose.
Built in 2011, the Malaika School is a free, accredited primary and secondary school that provides a comprehensive and high quality education to 280 girls. Our goal is to build the leadership capacity of each student so that she is empowered to give back to her community and has a positive, long-term impact on the future of the DRC. The curriculum is structured around daily classes in French and English, on subjects including math, science, information technology, health and civic education. Art, music, theater and physical education are also a key part of the robust educational programming. Great care is taken to cultivate the leadership potential of the students, from involvement in the Girl Scouts, to field trips and community service projects, such as planting trees or teaching the community about malaria prevention. Additionally, each girl receives two healthy meals a day – often her only ones. The Malaika School is 100% powered by solar energy. The newest addition is an e-library, which houses both print and ebooks on tablets, giving the girls access to the broad world surrounding them.
At the same time, we impact the surrounding Kalebuka village through our Community Center, built in partnership with FIFA, which provides education, health and sports programming to approximately 7,000 youth and adults per year. We also provide essential infrastructure development by building 9 wells that supply fresh water to 18,000 people, greatly reducing disease and illness.
Malaika has been featured on a variety of media, including Vogue, Vanity Fair, the BBC, and CNN, who came to visit our projects in Kalebuka. Noella has spoken alongside Princess Caroline of Hanover at the AMADE plenary session, alongside President Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, WISE summit, Global Citizen Forum, UNICEF and the U.K. Parliament, and gave a TED talk in Paris.
Malaika’s programs rely upon the dedication and hard work of 35 Congolese staff members working on the ground in the DRC, and around-the-clock support from a team of 30 volunteers working in the US, Europe, the DRC, and beyond. Malaika has only one paid international staff member, in New York. 91% of funds donated to Malaika go directly to our community programs.
- Website: malaika.org
BBC interviewing Noella for their 100 influential and inspirational women series:
- Profile in Vogue
- Feature in ELLE