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Noëlla was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to a Cypriot father and a Congolese mother. Following the passing of her father at the age of 5, and with her mother lacking the resources to look after her, Noëlla was sent to live with relatives in Switzerland. After a 13-year absence, Noëlla decided to return to her homeland of the DRC and to meet her mother. After witnessing firsthand the poverty and lack of opportunity for women in the country, Noëlla promised herself that she would one day make a difference. After receiving a degree in business management, Noëlla was discovered and chosen to appear in a campaign for AGENT PROVOCATEUR. A career as an international model then followed, which took Noëlla from the pages of fashion magazines like VOGUE, ELLE and VANITY FAIR to a global stage. As she travelled the world, she discovered a platform from which to share her passion for human rights.
In 2007, Noëlla founded MALAIKA, a nonprofit grassroots organization that empowers Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programs. Malaika’s projects are impacting tens of thousands of people’s lives and are all offered completely free of charge. Noëlla works tirelessly to cultivate the power of education and has reached out beyond the village of Kalebuka, the nation of the DRC and the continent of Africa in order to engage with communities on a global scale and invite them to be a part of her education revolution.
Noëlla's efforts have made her one of the most sought-after speakers on the subject of girls’ education. An advocate for peace, she has spoken to countless audiences as far-ranging as UNICEF and the UK Parliament and has appeared several times alongside President Clinton on Clinton Global Initiative panels and Princess Caroline of Hanover at the annual AMADE plenary sessions. Noëlla has been interviewed about her philanthropic work on global news outlets such as CNN and the BBC, has given a TED talk and presented in front of top executives from multinationals like SAP and T-Systems. Noëlla has also been named one of ELLE’S incredible women shaping Africa and one of Lifestyles’ most powerful women in philanthropy.
Noëlla was recently appointed Global Ambassador for the internationally renowned and prestigious Global Fund, based in Geneva. In this new capacity she will work alongside her fellow ambassadors (which include Charlize Theron, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Bono) to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by drawing attention to the need for more investments in health and education, particularly amongst young women. She was also invited as a key guest speaker at the prestigious World Innovation Summit for Education for 2017.
Alongside being a mother to two young children, Noëlla continues to work as a model but now her passion is to model with meaning, using her profile to raise awareness for causes she believes in as a mother, a feminist and a believer in the intrinsic human right to education, health and opportunity.