Beautiful, passionate and happy with herself as well as with life, Noëlla Coursaris is something of a modern angel.
International model, Noëlla, is the founder of the Georges Malaika Foundation – a tuition-free accredited school for girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The organisation was named in memory of Noella’s father, Georges, and uses the Swahili word for angel, malaika.
One word that describes you?
In your own words, what do you do?
I am the founder of Georges Malaika Foundation. The Georges Malaika Foundation (GMF) built and operates the Georges Malaika School for Girls, a tuition-free accredited school educating 152 girls in the village of Kalebuka, near the city of Lubumbashi in southeastern DRC. In addition to their education, the pupils receive two meals each day, english classes, essential vaccinations, and they participate in sports activities twice a week. In september 2013, three more classrooms will be added.
We are very excited to introduce FIFA as our latest partner in the GMF network. Through the Football for Hope program, an initiative of their implementing partner StreetFootballWorld, we will incorporate sports facilities near the school grounds and an integrated co-ed sports program to encourage community participation. The Kalebuka Football For Hope Center will be based on improving public health, education, and life skills for the entire community. Our center is under construction and the official opening will be end of august 2013.
Who is your greatest influence in your career/life?
My father Georges. Although he passed early on in my life, he was a great man and his legacy lives on in the Georges Malaika Foundation, which I named after him. Malaika means ‘angel’ in Swahili. His legacy is that all our wonderful girls are his angels.
Which is your favourite part of your job?
The satisfaction of knowing that everything we do at GMF goes to supporting and providing for our 152 angels at the school in Kalebuka. It warms my heart every day to know that we are giving them a great opportunity to lead happy and successful lives and to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Which is the part that you enjoy the least?
All the traveling can be very tiring. Although I am glad to be doing my work around the world, I love spending time with my family at home. My son is my sunshine, he is nearly 3 years old.
What is your greatest achievement?
Apart from my son and my family, it is all that we have achieved at GMF. The school, the community center, the wells, all of it is amazing and could not have been done without our generous donors and dedicated team.
What was your Plan B?
Before starting GMF, I was a model for a long time. I can’t imagine my life without GMF, but I’d probably still be in the fashion industry, but at the same time doing everything possible to raise awareness of these issues we work on and give back to my home country to see a stronger Africa.
What is your most prized possession?
My son and pictures of my dad.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Leave a legacy. It is very important to give back to others, but overall be happy with yourself and the person you are.
Please complete the sentence… I could not live without…
My family. My husband James and my wonderful son JJ always keep me going. I know that they are there or me no matter what. My son’s smile can brighten up my day in an instant.
Favourite restaurant? In which city?
I love Zuma restaurant in London, but I also love my mother’s cooking!
Sustainability and consumption are two words you will hardly find in the same sentence – which brands do you think are good quality and are doing their bit for people and the planet?
Voss water is an amazing company that is doing so much for Africa. We have worked with them to provide two fresh water wells to Kalebuka.
Do you support a charity or cause?
Besides Georges Malaika Foundation, I am a contributor and a volunteer. I also support Panzi Hospital and the work of Dr Mukwege on saving lives, and women and children from being raped as weapons of war.
What’s on your Xmas wish-list?
That we are able to continue to provide education to our girls, water to the village, and that we continue to grow as an organization and to help as many people as we can.
What is your personal luxury?
I love bags, lipstick, and shoes!
What steps do you take to make your life more positive?
I go to the DRC twice a year to visit the school, the girls, and the teachers. It is great to see all of our achievements in person.
What does positive luxury means to you?
It can be shopping for a good cause, such as when you buy something and you know a percentage goes to a charity.