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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Ambitious Middle Schooler, Miss Congo Brazzaville, Puts Her Heart on Her Hand


Miss Congo Brazzaville 2017 is giving a voice to the U.S. Congolese community. She is a spokesperson for an organization that provides shoes, books and other supplies to the widows, orphans and Pygmy people of the Congo. She is also in 8th grade.

Clardav Goutou-Nkoli is reigning Miss. Congo Brazzaville and a student at Briggs Chaney Middle School. She is the brandperson for the charitable organization, Le Coeur Sur La Main. Most recently, she was a keynote speaker for the DC GIN conference at George Washington University. “I’ve gotten to this point by basically working hard and prioritizing by having a goal that I can work to achieve,” she said.

Goutou-Nkoli, as Miss Congo Brazzaville, gives a voice to both the Congolese-American community as well as those suffering strife and oppression in the Republic of the Congo. She never wanted to be Miss Congo Brazzaville because of what she looked like, but instead because of what she wanted to do to help those in need. She said, “I believe that beauty is not only on the outside but how you can help improve the world.”

When Goutou-Nkoli became Miss Congo Brazzaville she found an opportunity to join Le Coeur Sur La Main, an organization devoted to helping those who need it in the Congo. Le Coeur Sur La Main can be roughly translated to heart on your hand, an allegory for the empathy and action-based work the organization does, according to Clardav.  

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“I was introduced before I even ran to be Miss. I was told about the organization and I like their goals so when I ran for Miss I knew that if I were to win then that would be what I would be working on,” she said.

Le Coeur sur La Main donates furniture, books and other items to widows, orphans and Pygmy in the Congo. The Pygmy people, recognized by their short stature, have frequently been the victims of violence and oppression in the Congo. Goutou-Nkoli, however, believes that many of the issues Le Coeur sur la Main is fighting in the Congo stem from the government.

“I think the biggest problem is that, in the country, the government really doesn’t try that hard to work with the people to understand their pain, what they’re going through.” She also discussed the status of the healthcare system in the Congo, saying that, “the lack of medical attention is also a big problem.”

However she also expresses hope for the future of the Republic of the Congo. She believes that if the Republic of the Congo would change how it is governed, many of the issues Le Coeur sur La Main are fighting would not be as common or as consequential.“I think that they could become more of a  democracy, more than just one person because the president of the Congo has been reigning for about 32 years, I believe, so I think that they need a change and a new set of ideas.”

She says her rolemodels are her mother and Oprah. Both inspired her to choose the direction she has chosen for her life. “People who inspire me, are my mom because she is really hardworking and she does a lot for me to, you know, succeed and also Oprah, she is very inspirational for me.”

She has a bright future ahead of her in activisim and academics. She also reflected on her dual role as an activist for many in the Republic of the Congo as well as a leader in the Congolese-American community. When asked where she saw herself in five to ten years, she said that, “I would see myself working with organizations still and I hope to be traveling back and forth between Congo and America.”

By Nicolas Greamo and Adam Rehman

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