Noella Musunka’s Malaika is a non profit that operates in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It aims to empower the next generation of change makers through access to education, sport and health programs for girls and their communities.

I had quite a difficult childhood with my Dad passing when I was five. My mother knew I wouldn’t get an education if I stayed in Congo as she didn’t have the financial means to support it. I was an only child, so she sent me to live in Europe with some family. I still had hopes and dreams for my future and so I felt I had two choices; feel disheartened by the difficult circumstances I found myself in and give up, or recognise that if I worked hard and gained an education I could still achieve my dreams.
    In terms of a vocation, I wanted to be a doctor. I think I’ve always wanted to work with people and I loved the thought of being someone who helped others. I’m so grateful that my career has afforded me the platform from which I can impact others for the better.

I set up Malaika in 2007 after realising the immense opportunity I had to make a difference by using the voice I now had through my modelling career. Malaika is based in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is a free, accredited school that provides a holistic primary and secondary education to 346 girls.

What Malaika is today is the result of a team of staff and volunteers who have worked incredibly hard. Some internationally and others on the ground in Congo, working to help embed Malaika and encourage the community to value the education of it’s girls and support them attending school. The journey has involved us continually listening to our beneficiaries and trying to meet the challenges they face. For example,
the issue of a lack of clean water was significant. It increased the spread of waterborne diseases and took up a lot of the girls’ time as they had to travel long distances to fetch water for their families, preventing them from accessing education. When we started building wells it had a big impact and we have just kept working to grow what we have in every area. Years after that first well was built we have 19 wells serving 30,000 people.

For more of Noella’s interview, head to Amazon to see it in The Game Changers book.