Interview The model behind Malaika: Noëlla Coursaris Musunka
THE WICK: Talk us through a typical Monday.
Noëlla Coursaris Musunka: I have two young children, who are my world. On Mondays (and all school days), I make them breakfast and get them ready for school, pick them up again in the afternoon, help with homework, cook dinner, bathe them and read to them at bedtime. Before they are up and while they’re at school, I have a lot of phone calls (and pre-Covid many in-person meetings) with the Malaika team from every corner of the world, as well as many conference calls. I am a full-time volunteer for Malaika, the foundation I founded in 2007. I’m also actively involved in my modelling career and advocacy work.
TW: What makes you culturally curious? Where inspires you?
NCM: Even though I was born in DRC [the Democratic Republic of the Congo], my mother had to send me to live with relatives in Europe after my father passed away when I was five years old. I’ve been visiting several times a year since I was 18, but I am still learning about my own cultural heritage. So, I love learning about Congolese culture but also the local culture whenever I travel to someplace new. While I love Africa, I really love New York as well, where I lived for many years.
TW: What’s the book you would most likely recommend?
NCM: I do a lot of reading with my daughter, so a lot of the books I’ve been reading lately are kid-appropriate. I recently had the opportunity to reread The Little Prince and I can’t stop recommending it. This book is deceptively simple. While it does remind us that we’re sometimes too complicated as adults and need to hold onto the openness and curiosity of childhood, it’s also so much more. It’s about friendship, searching for truth and staying loyal both to yourself and others. I think everyone – children or adults – can find ways to apply these themes in their life.