Women Changing the World: Noella Coursaris Musunka

For quite some time now, I’ve been wanting to write a series about the numerous women I either know personally or have come into contact with who are doing things in their day-to-day lives that will change the world.

If you scroll down most online fashion sites, you’re going to see countless stories about the latest “it” girls or Hollywood celebrities, (or articles about how you need to be thinner, sexier and younger-looking). I want to use the digital real estate here at Stylaphile to showcase ordinary women instead. Ordinary women doing extraordinary things. These are the REAL “it girls.” These are REAL role models.

I got this idea because two of my best friends are great examples. Missy, my best friend since 6th grade, is the Director of Communications and Development for The Literacy Council. She spends her days helping adults learn to read. My friend Sherry-Lea is the Vice President of Catholic Charities and is developing programs that help the poorest people in the poorest communities. (Look for both of their stories to be profiled here soon.)

It was through Sherry-Lea that I recently had the opportunity to meet today’s Woman Changing the World.

Noella Coursaris Musunka, Founder of Malaika

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Sherry-Lea invited me to attend a dinner here in NYC celebrating Noella Coursaris Musunka being named to ELLE’s Incredibles – 50 African women who are shaping the continent.

 Noella is the founder of Malaika, a nonprofit, grassroots organization with a mission to empower Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programs.
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The Malaika School offers free education for 252 girls. It also provides two healthy meals per day (which in many cases, are the only ones the girls receive). The school operates on a 100% solar-powered energy grid and has a library with both print and eBooks on Android tablets, giving these girls access to vast knowledge of the world outside their tiny community.
SpacerNoella partnered with FIFA to provide education, health and sports programming to approximately 7,000 youths and adults each year. Her organization has also built 7 wells that supply fresh water to 14,000 people, greatly reducing disease and illness. Noella has spoken at UNICEF, alongside President Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative, in front of the Kinshasa Parliament and gave a TED talk in Paris.
SpacerWhen I met Noella, she hugged me as if she had known me her entire life. This woman radiates kindness and confidence. She truly loves what she’s doing and it shows. Not only that, her enthusiasm obviously trickles down to her staff that were in attendance. Each of them spoke with pride about the work Malaika is doing and the plans for the future. I was truly honored to be in a room with so many people (both men and women) who are changing the world.
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To learn more about Noella and Malaika, visit her website here. And if you’d like to make a donation, you’ll be happy to know that 91% of funds donated to Malaika go directly to community programs.
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