This week, Congolese-born international model, founder of @Malaikadrc, philanthropist and voice for girls worldwide, @noellacoursaris, opens up about juggling work and motherhood, her proactive dream to empower girls and see them in leadership across Africa and worldwide and her proudest achievements so far.
One wardrobe item you can’t live without?
A vibrant statement dress. I love dresses with African prints on as I love to express my culture and enjoy the colour and dynamism of their designs.
What has been your biggest challenge this year?
Malaika is the non-profit organisation I founded in 2007 and it includes a school for 370 girls as well as a community center that serves over 5000 youth and adults with sport for development programmes and education. The school and center had to close for several months due to the pandemic and it was very difficult for the community in the rural village of Kalebuka. Missing school for them doesn’t just harm their educational attainment, it puts their lives at risk.
How have you kept yourself uplifted during this time?
By enjoying the positives of the change in lifestyle the lockdown afforded me; spending more time with my children, not having to travel, learning how to maximise virtual opportunities for our global team. We have recognised that we have many resources we can use to still help the community at this time. We have taught hygiene at our 20 wells, used 3D printers to make masks for hospitals with our STEM team, and the ladies who run a sewing business out of our community center have been sewing masks.
How do you juggle your work for Malaika, working as a model and motherhood?
My work with Malaika and as a model can take me all across the globe, so when I’m with my children I make an effort to be present to give them that quality time they need. This means having to manage my time effectively, working around their schedules as much as possible. I also love to include my children in the work I do - they are budding little philanthropists and we spend every summer in the Congo at Malaika as a family.
Proudest moment so far?
Seeing the first students arrive when we opened our school. The change in them from just a few months of attending Malaika school was so apparent. I’m so thankful for an incredible team who made it happen and now, 13 years later we provide a holistic education including, STEM, art, theatre and entrepreneurship to 370 girls. We have 20 wells that provide clean water to 30,000 people, agriculture that we use to teach organic farming and provide food for the school, and sport for development programmes for youth and adults.
What is your biggest mission in life?
To see girls educated. Not only is it their human right but when girls are educated society benefits. Girls are 1.5 times more likely to not have access to education, and two-thirds of the global illiterate population are women. Children born to illiterate parents are more likely to be illiterate themselves and the cycle continues. I want to see more girls in leadership positions across Africa and for this to happen, they need to be able to access quality schools where they are safe and enabled to thrive.