Noushka Teixeira, training tomorrow’s citizens

Noushka Teixeira won 25,000 euros when she was awarded the Women for Change award in October 2014. The money has allowed her to develop the project of her association Matumaini: housing and educating the young street girls of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We spoke to her about her project and plans for the future during her stay in Paris.


Nouska Texeira Women For Change

Can you tell us about Matumaini
« Matumaini was set up 5 years ago. Our mission is to educate young orphaned girls who have been victims of sexual violence on the streets of Kinshasa. We educate them, they are all enrolled at school.

We want to accompany them as far as possible in their education, and not just stop at teaching them basic skills like cutting fabric and sewing clothes. Contrary to what you might think, it’s not because they come from the streets that they are unable to study and go to university. They are very capable, and our goal is to make educated women of them.»

"Our desire is to accompany them as far as possible in their schooling"

What exactly do you do?
« We opened an accommodation centre in Kinshasa in October 2011. Around thirty girls live there full-time. They have lost their families and are totally without means. We have undertaken building work with help from the Orange Foundation to develop a training and literacy centre.
Today our goal is to expand this centre. Our ultimate objective is to have our own school with a training centre, and also to have on-site access to healthcare. Given that we look after victims of violence, we have faced immense challenges since day one. We have seen that hospitals in certain areas of Kinshasa are not necessarily well enough equipped, and that staff have not had sufficient training to deal with cases like this.

Noushka Matumaini Women for Change

>>> "My goal is to create a Matumaini village."

We need to employ a lot of psychologists, which is not a very well valued profession in Kinshasa, and definitely not in the field of child psychology, even less for street girls. Therefore, my current goal is to create what I call the Matumaini village, including an expanded accommodation centre, in order to be able to look after more young girls, and a training and literary centre. The training centre needs to be able to accommodate 50 young girls. »

What has happened to the young girls since they came to you?
« Six of them have moved on to secondary school. They are highly intelligent, and I’m so happy for them. They are developing very well. When they arrived, they were totally introverted and closed off. Now however, they are extraordinary young girls and, psychologically speaking, they are totally different. Really they are. »
How is Matumaini supported?
« For us, donations are so important and they allow us to grow our project. Young girls grow up, and obviously need more and more things as they grow. We have a website where you can find all the information on how to help us.

"The supports are important. Girls grow up, they have more and more needs."

We don’t own the centre, so we also have to pay rent. The school is supported by the Union des Français de l’Etranger, which has been helping us for two years, and we get clothing donations for the girls. Donations in kind are also very important for us. We need a lot of food. Feeding thirty children every day costs the earth."»

What has the Women for Change award meant for you and Matumaini?
« It has given us a lot more credibility. We were looked down on in Kinshasa. We were accused of trying to make money off the backs of Kinshasa’s poor, and nobody paid attention to what we were trying to achieve. With this exposure, and the reputation of the Orange Foundation, people have taken the time to look at what we are doing, and thanks to our web presence they have been able to see where we began, and how the project developed up to us being awarded the Women for Change award. As a result, we are receiving more attention and that has opened certain doors. The aid we receive has not increased, but now people take Matumaini seriously and they see that we are working to educate the young girls of Kinshasa. »

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