Kind Luxury meets Noella Coursaris Musunka, a truly remarkable and inspirational woman, mother, philanthropist, and model. She shares her personal story with us and sets out how she decided it was time to give something back to her home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She explains how she went about setting up Malaika, a non-profit organisation, to empower Congolese girls and their communities through education. In fact, this year marks a milestone for Noella and her team as they celebrate the tenth anniversary of Malaika, a truly remarkable achievement, which will be celebrated with a spectacular fundraising evening in New York City. The event will be hosted by June Sarpong MBE and performances will be given from the likes of Grammy award winning musician Eve.
We at Kind Luxury wanted to know more about what moved Noella to set up a non-profit organisation. We were keen to hear all about the challenges she faces as well as learning what advice she has for those considering setting up their own charity organisation.
|Noella Coursaris Musunka|
|Mother, Philanthropist and Model|
|Founder of Malaika - empowering Congolese girls and their communities through education|
QUOTE YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE BY
|“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb|
HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT SETTING UP A NON-PROFIT ORGANISATION? WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO FOCUS ON WOMEN AND GIRLS?
I didn’t want that to become a cycle...
It’s a topic that is very near to my heart. I was separated from my mother at a very young age because there weren’t any opportunities to go to school in the Congo. I didn’t want that to become a cycle, where girls had to leave their homes to find opportunities, and I’m very proud to say Malaika is directly affecting this in a positive way. It’s allowing girls in the community to learn and stay with their family. I hope that it will inspire opportunities within the DRC and Africa as a whole as well.
WHAT MOVED YOU TO TAKE ACTION AND WHEN DID YOU KNOW THE TIME WAS RIGHT?
After being away from my home and family for 13 years, while I lived and studied in Europe, I had gained my degree in business management and was eager to give something back to my home and the people that made me who I am.
WAS IT STRATEGICALLY IMPORTANT TO DECIDE WHERE THE NON-PROFIT ORGANISATION WAS SET UP? DID YOU HAVE SUPPORT IN THIS DECISION? WHY DID YOU SET UP MALAIKA IN THE UNITED STATES?
New York made sense as the other two board members live there and I had spent time in the city when I began modeling. It’s an international hub and we have many incredible relationships there that have supported us over the last ten years. The United States is also where most of our international volunteers are based.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN MANAGING A CHARITY ORGANISATION? WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?
I like to take on challenges and I really put everything I have into them.
The foundation is a huge part of my life, but I’m also a mother and a wife and I love those aspects of my life as well. The biggest concern is always that the girls and staff are okay. Especially recently with the situation in my home country being uncertain, I just want to see peace in my country. Anything else that keeps me up is usually related to one of my children.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
It’s always jumping between the role of being a mom and being a business women; often they overlap. Sometimes I’m feeding my kids lunch while having a Skype call with one of our volunteers or reviewing a proposal to a company as soon as my kids are in bed. It’s always hectic and no two days are ever the same but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
MALAIKA IS CELEBRATING ITS TENTH ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR, WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS?
To finish building the school and increase its quality. One of the biggest goals of Malaika is to build projects that are qualitative instead of quantitative.
We want to impact a few communities in a meaningful way, as opposed to impacting millions of people in a small way.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING PARTICULAR IN THE CONGO WHAT WOULD THIS BE?
I don’t think I would change anything specifically. The only thing I hope for is that we can work for peace and equality. I want to help create more jobs and increase the quality of the school system in all aspects. By promoting teacher training and access to education, we can encourage the country to develop the education it deserves and so reach its full potential.
WHAT IS THE GREATEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED SO FAR AS A PHILANTHROPIST?
Being a philanthropist is one of the most demanding yet rewarding jobs you could ever have.
I am so thankful for the girls and their communities that I have been introduced to through this foundation.
AND FINALLY WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE CONSIDERING SETTING UP A NON-PROFIT ORGANISATION?