Fiercely proud of her African heritage, Noëlla's determination to help improve the lives of Africa’s youth has made her an international advocate.
The success of Malaika has enabled Noëlla's work to be known to a wider audience, especially with increased media coverage including television, magazines, and other media news outlets.
Noëlla's passion lies in developing relationships that will support the girls of her homeland. To encourage the international community’s interest and involvement in the DRC, she has facilitated organized visits to Congo for many influential people, including students from Columbia University, Khaliah Ali (daughter of Muhammad Ali), Russell Simmons, the Ben Affleck Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.
Noëlla also works tirelessly to encourage the Congolese youth to work for peace, gender equality and poverty reduction for their continent. With that goal in mind, she has helped organize and present at screenings of documentaries that reveal the horrific impact of war and rape. She also actively volunteers for numerous projects; such as Project C.U.R.E. a program that ships surplus medical supplies from the U.S. to Congolese hospitals.
With passionate dedication, Noëlla works to further any cause she believes will empower the Congolese people to bring socio-economic development to their country, will allow children the opportunities they all deserve and ignite positive change throughout Africa.
In 2017, Noella was named an Ambassador for The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the world’s largest financier of programs combating these diseases through partnership between governments, civil society and the private sector. Supported by Bill and Melinda Gates and Kofi Annan, along with other experts in the field, The Global Fund has disbursed $35 billion to countries and communities in need.
Alongside other Global Fund Ambassadors like Bono, Charlize Theron and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Noella uses this platform to raise awareness of the tremendous need for more investments in health and education, and the intersections amongst the two. Adolescent girls and young women record
disproportionate HIV infection rates, which are often twice as high as among young men and boys. HIV is the leading cause of disease and death among girls and women of reproductive age (15-49 years) worldwide. A recent study in Botswana showed that secondary school students who stayed in school for an
extra year had an 8 percentage point lower risk of HIV infection about a decade later. Keeping adolescent girls and young women in school not only reduces their vulnerabilities to HIV infection but has the potential to create a critical mass of healthy, educated and financially independent women who make well-informed
choices about their lives.
This is a deeply personal partnership for Noella, as she accepted this honor in memory of 6-year old Miriam, a Grade 1 student who passed away in December 2015 due to complications from malaria, while the Malaika School was closed for the holidays.
In 2007, Noëlla founded Malaika. She volunteers her time and skills to the charity, alongside a team of professionals who also give their expertise on a probono basis.
Malaika is a nonprofit grassroots organization that empowers Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programs. The foundation operates in Kalebuka, a village 30 mins away from Noëlla's hometown of Lubumbashi.
Malaika provides the tools and opportunities for individuals to have a lasting impact on the future of the DRC. We offer community-driven health, education and infrastructure programs.
Malaika’s work takes three distinct paths:
Malaika School: Providing a Quality Education
Kalebuka Football for Hope Center: Transforming Community
Infrastructure: Providing Life-Saving Water
Malaika’s success to date has been the result of the hard work of 31 Congolese staff members working on the ground in the DRC and around-the-clock support from a team of 30 volunteers working in the U.S., Europe, the DRC and beyond. Malaika has only one paid international staff member, in New York.
Grammy Award-winning musician and actress, Eve, is a Goodwill Ambassador for Malaika.
91% of every dollar donated to Malaika goes directly to our programs – the remaining 9% covers essential administrative costs necessary to keeping our programs running.
The Malaika School is a free, accredited school that provides a comprehensive and high quality education to girls in Kalebuka. In 2011, we welcomed our inaugural Kindergarten and first grade students and have added an incoming class every year since.
As the school proceeds, it will add approximately 30 girls each year, whom we will educate until the end of secondary school. It will then strive to place them in internships with local companies and to secure scholarships for them to attend university.
The curriculum is structured around daily classes in French and English, on subjects including math, science, information technology, health and civic education. 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. Art, music, theater and physical education are also a key part of the robust educational programming.
The Malaika School library was recently inaugurated by Goodwill Ambassador, Eve. This e-library is the only one of its kind in Kalebuka. It has both print and e-books on donated Android tablets, giving the girls access to the broad world surrounding them. As of 2016, the Malaika School is 100% powered by solar energy.
In addition to providing a free education, a unique aspect of the School is that it provides two healthy meals a day. The girls eat breakfast and lunch at the School and eagerly look forward to them as these are often the only meals they receive each day.
Kalebuka Football for Hope Center
In 2013, Malaika partnered with FIFA to build the Kalebuka Football for Hope Center, a community center that offers education, health and sports programs to approximately 7,000 youth and adults in the village.
Offerings include classes and workshops in a range of subjects, such as Village Health Worker trainings, Mothers First family planning program, and Drop Malaria program, which focuses on decreasing malaria through prevention and protection with awareness-raising activities and distribution of 9,000 nets. The Center also offers literacy, sewing, math and computer classes, giving students access to the Internet. In the coming year, the Center will launch the Sustainable Pathways project, our premier vocational training program to teach out-of-school youth about conservation farming, entrepreneurship and enterprise development.
In rural Africa, women can spend more than one hour on each trip to fetch water, an exhausting and often dangerous chore that robs them of the chance to work and learn. Dirty water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene habits play a major role in child mortality.
In order to combat these challenges, Malaika partnered with Voss Foundation to build four wells, and with Vinmart Foundation to build a fifth one. Having access to clean water in the village has helped decrease the number of cases of cholera, diarrhea and other illnesses. Our five wells have a direct and beneficial impact on over 10,000 people a year.
Since its inception in 2007, Malaika has worked hard to meet needs the community has presented.
New Beginnings, Malaika’s first and longest running project, is a sponsorship program which supports a group of abandoned and orphaned girls in Lubumbashi. Malaika finances the girls’ school expenses and contributes to Maison Magone, the orphanage where they live.
Malaika partnered with One World Play Project to distribute 10,000 One World Futbols across the Katanga Province. These ultra-durable footballs are being used at every opportunity by the happy youth.
Malaika partnered with Project C.U.R.E. to facilitate the shipment of 15 containers of donated medical equipment to the region’s hospitals, helping to bring down the mortality rate and improving outcomes for patients.