Noella Coursaris’ story is one all her own.
As a fashion model, there is an ever-present temptation to indulge in the high-life of parties, red carpets and other unmentionable acts, but Noella decided to riddle her model story with tales of charity work, motherhood and philanthropy.
As a young child, Noella departed from her native Democratic Republic of the Congo to start a new life in the UK. Over a decade later on a trip back to visit, she realized her calling was to give back to her home country.
Now, amidst a successful career as a print fashion model, Noella is actively involved in running her not-for-profit Georges Malaika Foundation that concentrates on transforming the learning experience of females in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
GlobalGrind caught up with the humanitarian beauty for an exclusive interview where she shared a little about where she seeks inspiration from, and divulged all the information about her charity work.
Check out the exclusive interview below:
GlobalGrind: Can you discuss your nonprofit, the Georges Malaika Foundation?
Noella: The Georges Malaika Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing all the tools necessary for young girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to unlock their potential through a proper education. The Georges Malaika School for girls was opened in September 2011, enrolling 104 girls between the ages of 5-7, in Katanga province, Eastern DRC.
Besides providing full scholarships, the school also offers two healthy meals a day in its very own canteen, school uniforms, shoes, after school vocational training classes for parents from the community, as well as health benefits – all within the beautifully designed, by Studio MDA, sustainable and eco-friendly campus.
The organization has flourished through the strong dedication and collaborative approach. Through partnership with a wide variety of different donors, corporate and independent, large and small, and a dedicated team of volunteers around the world, GMF has created revolutionary changes in the community and the lives of so many young girls. Specialized local teachers and school staff are committed to an advanced curriculum based on the Belgian and Congolese system that will prepare the girls for a competitive future. Working with the VOSS Foundation, there is access to clean, safe water available for the school through its very own pump, as well as one for the village.
Together we have also championed to combat the dire health concerns in teaming up with CURE Project Foundation to bring five containers of healthcare commodities to various hospitals across the rural Katanga Province where the school is located.
How did you get started with your charity?
I was born in the DRC but moved to Europe when I was very young, after my father passed away. Upon returning to the DRC after 13 years away, I was struck by the incredible disparities that existed in comparison to the opportunities available in the Western world, especially with regards to women and girls. I was inspired to start GMF as a way to bridge that gap and allow for the girls in underserved communities of the DRC to receive a strong education, live a healthy life and pursue their aspirations.
What are your goals within the foundation?
We have already begun the construction process of Phase II, which, in its entirety, will include three more classrooms, and a canteen, which will allow 52 more girls to enroll in September at the start of the 2012 school year, and upon completion of Phase 3 over a course of several years, the school will educate 338 young women from Pre-K to 12th grade. We hope the Georges Malaika Foundation will serve as not only an inspiration, but also a model, for education to reach girls all across the DRC and Africa.
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 Street Football World, and Architect for Humanity, GMF will incorporate sports facilities near the school grounds and an integrated coed sports program to encourage community participation. We will serve the surrounding population through a variety of services and activities that will provide engaging opportunities for growth, learning and participation. Our center will offer a comfortable, positive and motivating atmosphere where community members can come together to access resources and information that will improve their quality of life and set them on a path towards greater social development.
Aside from modeling, what are you most passionate about?
I love my family; it is such a wonderful experience being a mother. I also love traveling all over the world.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy lots of different types of music, especially if I can go to live concerts. In my free time I like to read, and traveling has always been a great love of mine, be it for leisure or for work.
What are your beauty secrets?
The most important beauty secret is getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water.
Which celebrity’s wardrobe do you envy?
Who has been your favorite photographer to work with and why?
I have worked with so many talented photographers, each with their own unique talents, I couldn’t pick just one!
What is one beauty item you can’t leave home without?
Where has been your favorite place to shoot?