Hush - In conversation with NOËLLA COURSARIS MUSUNKA
The woman building dreams for Africa’s youth talks about the power of education as she models our new spring collection.
For Noëlla Coursaris Musunka, education is all. It changed her life and now she is using it to change the lives of others.
The model-turned-philanthropist is the brains, drive and heart behind Malaika, a non-profit, grassroots foundation that empowers girls and their community through education. She has built it (quite literally – she was there when they dug the first well; laid the very first stone) from the ground up, transforming the Kalebuka community. Noëlla’s story is a remarkable one. Born in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, her childhood was curtailed by the death of her father when she was just five years old.
Unable to afford to raise and educate her daughter, her mother was compelled to send her to live with relatives in Europe. Her mother’s situation exemplifies what Noëlla sees as the issue at the heart of education in the Congo. “Sons are educated over daughters. If my mother had been educated, she would have been able to work and keep me. Instead, she had to send me away to give me a chance. But educate women, invest in them - and you elevate them. The other issue is that children are sent away to be educated – and take their skills elsewhere. We need to build the infrastructure and intellectual capital of the Congo from within. We want to educate the next engineers, teachers… These girls want to be leaders – they have big dreams.”
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