Noella Coursaris Musunka is a philanthropist, model and the founder of Malaika, a nonprofit organization that works to educate and empower girls and communities in her native country, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After receiving a degree in business management, Noella was discovered and began a successful modelling career. As she travelled the world, she discovered a platform from which to share her passion for human rights.
Tell us about a recent FML moment that you overcame?
A couple months ago, we had lost electricity in the village of Kalebuka where the Malaika School is. Fortunately, due to our solar panels and generators, we had power at our school and community center so it served as a beacon of light literally for the area, but it caused a lot of hassle for the staff and students and their families. It greatly impacted our daily functions, but we stayed in constant communication with the local team so we were able to come together and work as efficiently as possible given the village-wide struggle.
And what about an empowered boss moment?
I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to speak at various international events and to global leaders on childhood health and education and gender equality, but one event in particular that made me feel like quite empowered was at the Global Citizen Forum in Montenegro late last year. Among others who are striving to impact the world, including our Goodwill Ambassador Eve, Robert De Niro, Cherie Blair and UNESCO Director Irina Bokova, I was not only humbled to be a panelist but also to be in the company of fellow philanthropists, public figures, entrepreneurs and politicians who are aiming to create a world that is far more egalitarian for our youth.
What’s some advice you wish you knew at 12 years old?
Don’t worry about trying to be like everyone else around you. What makes you different and what drives you are the qualities that will serve you best when you’re older. Conforming never led to greatness.
What’s your spirit animal and why?
A lioness. She’s very protective of her children, but I extend that to all children in the world – their education and well-being are incredibly important to me and what I devote my life to.
Do you have a morning routine / how do you incorporate healthy living throughout your day?
I get up early and get my kids ready for school. We have breakfast together and then I drop them off. Once I get back I start working and call the local team at the Malaika School to go over the day’s plan. I’m briefed on everything, including any students out sick, projects, equipment issues, etc. To stay healthy, I drink a lot of water and have smaller meals during the day. I also have a trainer and try to stay active as much as I can.
What’s in your bag / purse?
My absolute favorite products that must be in my bag are my MAC Powder Blush in Raizin, Dior brown eyeliner and Bobby Brown Raisin Berry Creamy Lip Color. I also always bring along my organizer because my schedule gets pretty hectic, as a mother, model and founder of a grassroots non-profit. I need to be as organized as possible to juggle everything!
#WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday)- who do you think we should talk to next, and why?
Bozoma St. John. As the Chief Brand Officer of Uber, she is a powerhouse and her strength and determination towards whatever comes her way serve as inspiration for any woman who gets to know her, including myself.