As a young woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), I have a personal obligation to ensure that I give back to my community. I was born in Lubumbashi, but was educated in Europe after my father passed away and my mother was no longer able to care for me. After a 13-year separation, I returned to my country and was struck by the contrasts I found. In 2007, I founded the Georges Malaika Foundation to empower young Congolese women and their communities to rise above the struggles and make a positive contribution to society.
Over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to work with UNICEF, give a speech to the United Nations on International Women’s day, speak at Cambridge University, defend the rights of women to the parliament in Kinshasa, and be featured at other various events.
Education is one of the most important assets to an individual, and at GMF we strive to ensure that the gap between human resource capital (skills) and natural resource capital (minerals) is narrowed in Africa. It is through education and equipping the DRC’s growing population with the knowledge to manage these resources that we will close this gap. GMF sits at the top of my existence in this world, and is wholly supported by my great volunteer team. My life’s purpose is to inspire the girls and the community and provide as much help as possible. Through the years we have achieved the following, and I hope we continue to grow.
- GMF began by successfully sponsoring a group of at-risk Congolese girls from the Katanga province. Sponsorship of these orphaned and abandoned girls included school tuition and all associated costs.
- This vision expanded into the Georges Malaika School for Girls, a tuition-free accredited school educating 104 young girls, and expanding to 152 girls in its second year, in the village of Kalebuka, near the city of Lubumbashi in southeast DRC.
- Partnered with Project CURE and successfully brought 10 containers containing medical health supplies worth more than 5 million dollars to the region’s hospitals.
- Built two wells that have been installed as a collaborative effort with the Voss Foundation, one on the school grounds and another for the village of Kalebuka.
- Partnered with FIFA through the Football for Hope program, an initiative of their implementing partner StreetFootballWorld, GMF will incorporate sports facilities near the school grounds and an integrated coed sports program to encourage community participation. The Kalebuka Football For Hope Center will be based on improving the public health, education, and life skills for the entire community.
- In 2012 I participated in the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting 2012. I addressed the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton during the Opening Plenary with a statement of GMF’s commitment.
Our job at GMF is still far from being complete. As I prepare to accept this award from Diamond Empowerment Fund’s ‘Good Awards‘ I am reminded that with fame comes great responsibility. Africa’s young girls are looking at people like myself to provide inspiration and solutions that will uplift and empower them. It is my hope that you will join GMF and me in this journey. I am reminded everyday and everywhere I am that all the luxuries that we have come and go, but one thing that cannot be taken away from us is EDUCATION!
“Wealth, if you use it, comes to an end; learning, if you use it, increases.” ~Swahili Proverb
Noella, born in Lubumbashi, DRC was educated in Belgium and Switzerland. After achieving a degree in business, she moved to London and embarked on a career as an international model, and has been featured in international publications across the world.