Following two summers of COVID restrictions keeping our founder, Noella, at home in the UK, the Malaika team and Noella herself were delighted to be reunited for another exciting, inspiring and productive summer!
Noella places great importance on being on the ground and engaging with our community in order to better understand and meet their needs. Her two children joined her as they normally do, which is always a joy for Noella as they get involved and play their part in supporting the programs.
Working together in person with the team and launching several new elements to Malaika’s provision is always a key aspect of her visits and we’re excited to share everything that has taken place in the last few weeks.
As more of the world is starting to experience drought, water is perhaps being appreciated on a whole new level and the need for our community to access clean, potable water has been a key component of our service to the community in Kalebuka. Noella was extremely pleased to inaugurate two new wells during this trip, taking the total now to 27 built or refurbished that serve over 35,000 people.
These wells are powered by solar panels and were drilled in Sapirina and Kisaka.
We launched a new kindergarten class in our primary and secondary school for girls, taking the number of students to 430. A truly amazing number considering that almost all of them would not have been able to access a safe and quality education elsewhere. During her visit Noella met the new students starting in September and their parents and spent time getting to know them and introducing them to Malaika. This was highly beneficial as they are young and completely new to school.
Established in 2013, our community center continues to provide our youth and adults with skills to better their prospects, and we’re proud to be part of programs such as the National Institute for Vocational Preparedness, who are geared towards equipping our community with the necessary tools to pursue their careers.
Technical classes launched
Furthermore, at the start of her trip, Noella was able to host the launch of our new technical classes in collaboration with both Caterpillar Foundation and Congo Equipment and welcome special visitors to join the celebration. The program was launched by the President of Caterpillar, the CEO of Caterpillar Foundation, and the executive team of Congo Equipment. The Governor, Minister of Education and all of our long-time supporters and community members joined the celebration. To find out more about this, please check out this post.
Sport events for the community
It was amazing to have a couple of visitors who came and supported our sport programs, including Theresa, a sport teacher/specialist from the UK, who came to volunteer for five weeks and did sports with the girls and the community center. Also, several volunteers including Katie from MIT who taught lessons and discussed career paths, and Adeline of African Leadership Academy who discussed entrepreneurship and how to apply for university, shared their time and energy supporting us in person. There was also included a tennis tournament hosted at Malaika by a local organization for individuals in wheelchairs and a football match for deaf and mute adults.
Visits from Malaika supporters
During Noella’s visits there is the opportunity for us to grow our ecosystem of collaborators, supporters and volunteers as she and the team meet and connect with many people from various industries, including donors, sport, media and education as well as members of local government.
Our students and trainees benefited from visitors such as Congolese boxer, Yoann Kongolo, who shared some boxing skills with our youth. Local artists took some creative sessions with the students at Malaika school. The ladies who are part of our entrepreneurship and sewing program, Mama Ya Mapendo, enjoyed a visit from model and entrepreneur Nathalie Eoma, who shared some ideas and knowledge with our trainees.
We also had the honor of giving a guided tour of all of Malaika’s programs to Mr. Dikanga Kazadi, the Academic General Secretary of the University of Lubumbashi, who also spoke to students about the University.
Exploring future opportunities
In the coming year, our grade 6 secondary students will be graduating, so the team is highly focused on exploring the best opportunities for their continued education and training. The team visited a couple of local further education provisions, including the New Horizons University. The visit was not only inspiring for our Grade 6 students, whose dreams of attending university are now more possible than ever, but a true pinch-me moment for us all.
To further prepare them for their next steps, this summer our Grade 6 students set out on a two-week internship at a local company and benefited from a workshop, taught by Noella, where they were prepared with ample knowledge of what to expect from their experience in the workplace.
Noella visits other education providers
In order to make connections and inspire her and the team as they look to develop Malaika’s programs and access further education opportunities for future graduates, Noella visited the University of Lubumbashi, ECOPO, and the University Protestant of Lubumbashi (UNILU). She also visited other education providers that offer technical classes, including; INPP, ENABEL and the city of youth.
Team connection and development
We are grateful for our brilliant local team who are committed to implementing, teaching and offering their expertise in order to see Malaika grow and the students reach their full potential. It was also great to have our Director of Operations, Megan, join Noella and the team in the DRC for a week to further strengthen the team and their ability to work together internationally.
Our teaching staff undertook some teaching training with François, principal of Lycée Français in Zurich, which was important for their skills development as well as ensuring we can deliver a quality education to our students. This was François’ second time at Malaika, and we were so glad to have him again.
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Our goal at Malaika is to listen to our community about their needs and provide them with the tools they need to sustainably work toward the change they want.
We’re beyond excited to have officially launched our new technical program in partnership with Caterpillar Foundation at the end of last month!
On June 28, just after our very own Founder & CEO Noella arrived in Kalebuka, we gathered with current students, representatives from Caterpillar Foundation including President Asha Varghese and Group President Denise Johnson, as well as the governor of Haut Katanga province and the CEO of Congo Equipment, and the entire Malaika community.
This new collaborative program represents huge opportunity for young women and men seeking to lift up themselves and their community. They’re learning highly marketable skills on real equipment from knowledgeable staff, paving the way for them to find work as electricians and mechanics or start their own businesses. This program has been years in the making, and we’re incredibly proud of the learning that is already taking place, and the strong female representation in the classes.
We look forward to our initial cohort of 80 students completing their respective courses and seeing the inevitable ripple effects of this life-changing initiative! Learn more about our technical program here.
At the core of Malaika’s educational philosophy is individualized and holistic attention to students and staff. We were delighted when Rebecca, our incredible English teacher and special projects advisor, was recently interviewed on Malaika TV, a local station.
“At school, we need to know the background of our girls so that we can teach them well being,” Rebecca says. The program was about children coming from broken families, and Rebecca explained the importance of education and support in such students’ lives.
“That is why we educate the community, because they are our partners. We work together with parents, we exchange information on different activities,” she says. “We need to pay attention to our children’s emotions, listen to them, give them space for free conversation and show them affection.
Rebecca, who is an excellent and eloquent speaker, believes that education is crucial in uplifting not only those who come from difficult situations but also the community as a whole.
“They need vocational training, entrepreneurship courses and they must learn values because these youth are the future of DRC. When they finish, they need support and follow up so that they can create cooperatives or their own activities and be independent, so they will not go back on the street again.” We were so proud of Rebecca and know her message had a far-reaching impact.
“Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
We’re so proud of our founder Noella, who was honored as a Daughter of Greatness by the Muhammad Ali Center. Daughters of Greatness are women engaged in social change, activism and pursuits of justice.
Noella has a great respect for Muhammad Ali, from whom she draws much inspiration. We’re so grateful to the Ali Center for acknowledging Noella and placing her in a class of powerhouse, change making women.