The Swahili word for ‘angel’ is malaika
Malaika’s mission is to empower Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programs. The grassroots non-profit operates in the village of Kalebuka, in the Southeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
An educated girl will increase her future earnings by approximately 10-20% for each additional year of schooling and will reinvest most of it back into her family and community. These are key factors in a nation’s socioeconomic development, and yet girls still face immense obstacles in obtaining an education in the DRC. At Malaika, we mobilize resources so that these girls can receive the best schooling possible, providing them with greater choices, opportunities, and the capacity to make informed decisions. Our goal is to build the leadership capacity of each individual student so that she gives back to her community, and has a positive, long-term impact on the future of the DRC. In essence, we are fueling a generation of change-agents. At the same time, we impact the surrounding community through recreational and life skills programming for adults and children, as well as essential infrastructure development.
With the exception of the locally hired Congolese teachers and support staff, Malaika is operated by pro bono experts and volunteers from the public and private sector.
Our work takes three paths:
Built in 2011, the Malaika School is a free, accredited primary and secondary school that provides a comprehensive and high quality education to 346 girls. Our goal is to build the leadership capacity of each student so that she is empowered to give back to her community and has a positive, long-term impact on the future of the DRC. The curriculum is structured around daily classes in French and English, on subjects including math, science, information technology, health and civic education. Art, music, theater and physical education are also a key part of the robust educational programming. Great care is taken to cultivate the leadership potential of the students, from involvement in the Girl Scouts to field trips and community service projects, such as planting trees or teaching the community about malaria prevention. Additionally, each girl receives two healthy meals a day – often her only ones. The Malaika School is 100% powered by solar energy. The newest addition is an e-library, which houses both print and ebooks on tablets, giving the girls access to the broad world surrounding them.
Malaika collaborated with FIFA to build the Kalebuka Football for Hope Center. This community center uses health, education, and football programs as social development tools to improve the quality of life of 5,000 people in the region. Offerings include classes and workshops in a range of subjects, such as our Village Health Worker trainings, Mothers First family planning program, and Drop Malaria program, which focuses on decreasing malaria through prevention and protection with awareness-raising activities and distribution of 9,000 bednets. The center also offers literacy, sewing, math and computer classes and gives students access to the internet. In 2016, the center launched the Sustainable Pathways project, our premier vocational training program to teach out-of-school youth about conservation farming, entrepreneurship and enterprise development.
In rural Africa, women can spend more than one hour on each trip to fetch water – an exhausting and often dangerous chore that robs them of the chance to work and learn. Dirty water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene habits play a major role in child mortality. In order to combat these challenges, Malaika partnered with Voss Foundation to build eleven wells, with Vinmart Foundation to build a twelfth one, and with a private donor to build a thirteenth one. In the summer of 2019, we drilled two new wells. Malaika also refurbished four existing wells, bringing them back into clean and working order and built yet another new well in winter 2020. Having access to clean water in the village has helped decrease the number of cases of cholera, diarrhea and other illnesses. Our twenty wells have a direct and beneficial impact on over 30,000 people a year.