Noella's Fight for Orphan Girls in Congo

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Noella Coursaris is an internationally acclaimed model who is using her celebrity for the benefit of underprivileged children and women in her birthplace of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Motivated by her personal experience as a young girl who lost her father at the age of five and was sent away to Europe by her Congolese Mother who was too poor to raise her on her own, Coursaris says:  "I believe that if my mother had an education at the time my father died, she would have been able to support me and keep me," Coursaris says.


Although educated in Belgium and Switzerland, Noella is passionate about her birth country to which she now returns up to four times a year. After her first return visit at the age of 18, Coursaris founded the Georges Malaika Foundation, named after her late Greek-Cypriot father. The foundation supports the education of young girls from the DRC who have been abandoned, sexually abused or accused of witchcraft, paying for their education and meals.


With a focus on empowering young girls through education and raising the literacy rate for Congolese women, Coursaris says of the Foundation "We believe that showing the culture and the creativity of the Congolese orphans and girls through education they will know how to manage themselves -- they will have an education, they will have work one day and they will be able to have a voice politically, economically, socially". The foundation is also involved in the construction of an ecological school for 100 children in the Katanga province in the south of the DRC, the area where Coursaris herself was born and spent her early childhood. Coursaris recently addressed UNICEF and the Congolese Parliament on issues confronting underprivileged girls.


"I think it's very important that people have education, to stay in the country to make progress, to make the country progress," Coursaris says. "If everyone who has education leaves, the country will stay the same."

 

Now raising her own son Mapendo whose name means "love" in Swahili, Coursaris believes in her home country in spite of the DRC's well-documented problems and hopes her son will experience the DRC as a very different country. "When he is my age I want him to see a new Congo, with a strong leadership, with a lot of schools all over Congo.” She adds: "It is important that we have infrastructure and that we are developed but it is very important that we keep our integrity, that we keep our identity. It's important that we keep our culture."

- CNN

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 21:28
Written by Samira I-Hassan


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