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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It is so important for our girls to have real life examples of people who have successfully pursued their dreams. It’s equally as important for them to hear from experts in their fields, who know their subject inside and out and can give Malaika’s new insight, perspective and knowledge.
Recently, the students welcomed a number of guests to their newly reopened school classrooms.
Carbone Beni gave our girls a motivational talk about making change through important, proactive work.
Meanwhile Valere, a strong Malaika supporter, offered in-depth science lessons on the COVID-19 pandemic. This helped our girls gain a greater understanding of the virus and how to work toward eradicating it.
Part of what makes our model so unique is this constant input from so many individuals and organizations who bring their own backgrounds, skills and passions to Malaika’s students, holistically educating and preparing them for the future.
Taking advantage of the students being home, local mothers in the community undertook a deep cleaning of Malaika School this past week.
Wearing masks and other protective gear, thoroughly washing and keeping safe distances, they scrubbed and sanitized to prepare the school for students eventual return. We’re so grateful to these women for keeping our grounds clean and keeping our community safe and healthy!
“12 years from now, I hope that they become even more than what they are dreaming of right now.”
Meet Sylvain, Malaika’s amazing headmaster. He is passionate about delivering a quality education that enables our students to reach their full potential, and he truly believes in their abilities.
He cares not only about having a rigorous and holistic curriculum, but also about having a culture that promotes leadership qualities and strong values of giving back to the community within his students. We are so grateful to have had his leadership for several years. Hear his passionate perspective below or through this link.
Noella represented Malaika at British Vogue’s Forces for Change Nightcap with Vanessa Kingori, the magazine’s publishing director, and Natalia Vodianova, philanthropist and co-founder of Elbi (a wonderful organization that’s supporting Malaika).
The event took place at the World Economic Forum in Davos and was a great opportunity for these change making, strong female leaders to communicate and collaborate.
As of February 7, Malaika has launched the sale of its bags and other accessories under the brand Mama Ya Mapendo (Mothers With Love) at Hyper Psaro supermarket. We sincerely thank Hyper Psaro for this goodwill in joining us to sustain all our programs and for believing in Malaika for so many years.
We also thank all the mothers who participated in the production for their steadfast courage in learning and practicing these concepts. In addition to hand making their craft, these women come to read, write and learn entrepreneurship skills at the community center.
This success would not be possible without the commitment of our wonderful staff and that of our volunteers throughout the world who have worked hard to achieve tangible results.
We encourage everyone to visit the supermarket Hyper Psaro and buy our bags and accessories, all of which are made and are also available at our Malaika school or our community center in Kalebuka.
Noella loves to speak individually with as many students as possible when she is in country. In this video, she interviews one of our girls in order to get to know her a bit better. We’ve summarized this interaction in English so you can learn about this lovely young woman as well.
Meet beautiful Alfonsine. She has been a student for eight years at Malaika. Her teacher is Alain and she loves French, math and English. Her friend is Gabriela, and her favorite dish is rice and beans (just like Noella!).
Noella is back on the ground in Kalebuka, working hard and also spending time with students, staff, parents and the community. She was more than happy to present a donation of brand new football/ soccer balls to Malaika students from Manchester City.
Football plays a huge role at Malaika School and Kalebuka Football for Hope Center. We use the sport as a tool for education, social change, health and equality for our girls and the entire community. New equipment is always readily and enthusiastically received. The students will get much use out these donated balls. Thank you Manchester City!
Our founder, Noella Coursaris Musunka, recently sat down with Country and Town House magazine to discuss all things Malaika, her modelling career, and the power of education to transform the lives of girls.
“We started only with three classrooms. I never imagined it would grow to this,” Noella says. Read the article here to learn how Malaika began & what lies ahead.
We’re grateful to Country & Town House for sharing our story!