Noella Coursaris is a model, entrepreneur, and Black Opal brand ambassador but life hasn’t always been sweet. In fact, it’s Coursaris’ personal tragedy that lead to triumph. Her father died suddenly when she was five-years-old. Her mother, who had no education or financial resources to support her family, sent her daughter to live with relatives in Belgium and later Switzerland. Coursaris wouldn’t return to her native Democratic Republic of Congo for another 13 years and it inspired her to make a difference so she launched Malaika (which is Swahili for “angel”), a non-profit organization that empowers Congolese girls and their communities through education and health initiatives.
“I went to see my mom when I was 18. She was living in very poor conditions so I promised I would help her,” Coursaris tells AURN Online. “I wanted to help my country [too] so that is why I’m giving back. It started from a small idea on paper and it became this entire village. I have two of my own children but this is my baby too.”
Malaika’s projects, over the past 12 years, include a school for 280 girls, a community center built in partnership with FIFA and so much more, and that is where Black Opal comes in. Black Opal has been supporting Coursaris’ efforts with Malaika for several years, but they stepped it up recently by figuring out a way to bridge consumers around the world with the beneficiaries of Malaika.That is how the Aksanti Collection was born as part of Black Opal’s Shop For A Cause initiative.
The Aksanti Collection features two colorful gift sets, with Swahili names chosen by children of Malaika, and beautiful illustrations drawn by French-Congolese artist, Nicholle Kobi, that embody what each of the names represent. The names are Maisha, which means “life,” and Malaika, which means “angel.” Each set includes an eyeshadow palette, lipstick, lip gloss, and an illuminating stick.
“Malaika is a great project. Noelle is from the congo and I am too, so I feel like it was a real opportunity to do something not just for beauty but also for the message to these young ladies and to the world that we can work together as Black women and do great,” says Kobi.
The packaging features watercolor style art depicting glamorous Black women flourishing in the name of beauty, art, and uplifting humanity. Each set retails for $35, and 25% of the proceeds goes toward helping Malaika provide an education to the children of the Congo and more. You can purchase directly from BlackOpalBeauty.com starting April 22, just in time for Mother’s Day, or even you everyday slay.