INTERNATIONAL MODEL NOËLLA COURSARIS MUSANKA, AN OF YOUTH IN AFRICA

 

Noëlla Coursaris Musanka’s stunning face graces the pages of fashion magazines and runways for clients such as Agent Provocateur, Apple, Barclays and Virgin Mobile, but it is her giving heart and charitable spirit that is truly beautiful. For this international fashion model has another side to her and a mission for which she is deeply committed. She is dedicated to providing an education for the children of the Congo, particularly young girls.

For Noella, who was sent to be educated in Europe at age 5 after her father died unexpectedly, Africa remains her motherland. Being re-introduced to her home, and her own mother, after 13 years of detachment is what inspired her life’s mission.

As her modeling career transported Noëlla to the most glamorous locales in the world with appearances on the runways of Milan, Paris and New York, and in the pages of haute magazines, she never forgot her homeland and the need to give back to those trapped in poverty and oppression. She has used her growing fame to attract universal attention to her mission and to broaden the web of assistance needed to create a future of real change for girls in the Congo.

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To accomplish her goals she created the Georges Malaika Foundation (GMF) in 2007 and has not wavered in her quest to grant the Congolese the educations they deserve but are blocked from attaining. (“Georges” is her late father’s first name; “Malaika” is the Swahili word for “angel”.) Noëlla has achieved a great deal for the foundation against tremendous odds. The Georges Malaika Foundation School for Girls opened its doors in September 2011, to an inaugural class of 104 girls enrolling in kindergarten and first primary school. In September 2012, three classes were added; bringing total enrollment at the School to 152 girls; and in September 2013, the school year began with 180 girls enrolled at the School. GMF plans to increase enrollment each year until reaching its final goal of 338 girls. Based in New York, the Foundation operates in Kalebuka, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Noëlla has served as the welcoming ambassador for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (formerly Zaire) as Khalilah Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter, visited to commemorate the event that put the impoverished nation on the world’s radar. While there, she and Khalilah laid the cornerstone for the first Georges Malaika school, a school building that represents real change that Congolese girls can believe in. Sadly, Noëlla says that the girls who now attend the school are those who have been cast from their homes as a result of ‘sorcery’ accusations or a mere inability to be supported by their families”.

Through her fundraising efforts, girls receive full scholarships to attend the Georges Malaika School. This private school is based on the Belgian and Congo school systems and provides a holistic learning experience tuition-free, including uniforms, shoes, school supplies and two healthy meals a day. “I always wanted to do something for my country and the best thing to do is to pass on to others the same opportunity that was given to me. “(Education) may be the solution to the majority of problems that are not only plaguing my country but the rest of the continent and the world,” said Noella. “Education has proven itself to incite change for hundreds of years. It is perfectly attainable for all that have been given an opportunity to learn.” “An educated woman will earn up to 25% more and will reinvest 90% of her income in her family and community. These are key factors in a nation’s socioeconomic development, and yet girls still face immense obstacles in obtaining an education in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” she continues.

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While Noella is definitely glamorous, she also has the kind of gritty determination that doesn’t take no for an answer. She has already succeeded in kicking down the proverbial doors of Parliament in her nation’s capitol of Kinshasa, to stridently address the plight of young women and demand more access to schools for them.

Although she speaks halting English, she had no trouble gaining the ears of the United Nations, telling the Creative Leadership Summit that the Congo’s in such dire straits now that the females born from incidents of rape are being raped, and that “the (restorative) investment has to be in education”. While being honored at the U. N. Creative Leadership Summit in New York, she spoke up to express her shock at how contractors charge “in U.S. dollars, $600, $700 per (square foot)” for construction in the Congo. Noëlla was recently invited to speak at Cambridge University for their Africa Together event, where she was honored with an award for her “tireless wok as an international advocate of youth in Africa.

Though she’s not a golfer herself, Noëlla knows that golf tournaments are one of the strongest tools of fundraising and has visions of some day hosting a benefit tournament at the highly regarded resort in Lubumbashi, the Congo’s economic epicenter.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT GEORGES MALAIKA FOUNDATION AND NOËLLA AT: GMFAFRICA.ORG| NOELLACOURSARIS.COM

BY A. SCOTT WALTON | http://19thholemag.com